If your business requires shift work then you have a duty of care to your staff to ensure that they remain safe and healthy. There has been evidence to suggest that working shifts is actually bad for your health so an employer you need to be doing everything you can to ensure that each member of your team are happy and healthy in their job.

Of course it is not the case that all shift work is unhealthy – just that the nature of this kind of working can lead to staff developing poor habits. As a manager, it is of course a concern if your staff are failing to get enough sleep, eating poorly and even suffering injuries due to working while tired are all thing that you really want to avoid. So here are some ways you can make shift work healthier for your team.

Invest in shift planning software

shift workers

One of the most important ways that you can make shift work healthier and safer for your staff is to provide them with something as close to a routine as possible. Part of the reason that shift work can be challenging for the health of workers is that it creates an unusual sleep pattern that ultimately ends with staff not getting enough down time.

Having shift planner software allows you to plan shifts in advance and make the schedule available to staff so that they can be completely aware of when they are working and plan their time around their hours.

Of course it is also important that staff are not overworked, and shift planning software can help you to more accurately keep track of the amount of time your staff are working. Staff working too many hours can breach legal requirements but it can also simply be bad for their health.

Hire staff with experience carrying out shift work

Shift work has grown in popularity over the past two decades and it has been suggested that this is due to the fact that more people are willing to accept working shifts due to a lack of other available work, rather than an overall preference for working shifts. This indicates that it is more likely that you will have people applying for shift work who either aren’t used to it, or even aren’t suited to this kind of work in general.

This means that when you come to make hiring decisions you need to think about the suitability of the person applying for the role. Some people who have experience in working shifts understand the rigours and have proved that they are able to healthily carry out shift work. However, there are many for whom shift work will only make them unhealthy.

Those who are used to working a 9 to 5:30 job with the same nightly sleep pattern and eating routines may struggle to cope when they face a disjointed schedule that they have never had to navigate before. This doesn’t mean that you should only ever hire people who have experience working shifts. But it does mean that if someone applies and all of their experience is outside of shift work, you should carefully go through the realities of working shifts with them. This allows them to understand what it is really like before they commit to the job.

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Provide them with advice

If you have staff working for you who lack experience in working shifts or appear to be suffering from the effects of working shifts, it can be a good idea to provide information and advice. Shift work can be a healthy and happy way for people to be employed but it is important that they should do the right things.

It is a good idea to draw up a list of recommendations, advice and guidance that you can provide to any new staff or to those whose quality of work is suffering. Working shifts can be exhausting, especially if it is something you are not used to.

It can even help for you to set up facilities at your work to encourage the right kind of behaviour. For example, it’s a good idea to offer healthy drinks and snacks for free. If your staff are eating high-sugar snacks and energy drinks in an effort to stay awake over the course of a long shift it is both bad for them and bad for you.

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