Night shift workers have much harder time finding work-life balance: study
People who often work night shifts find it much more difficult to combine their work and private life than people who only work during the day, said researchers from TNO and the RIVM. The two organizations worked together on a joint study examining the subject. Dutch labor law considers a work period to be a night shift when more than one work hour takes place between midnight and 6 a.m.
“Night workers indicate in interviews that their night work leads them to spend less time with their family or partner. This is partly due to fatigue. They also have less desire for social contact on days off,” the RIVM said in a summary of the results.
On average, people who work night shifts are 2.5 times more likely to have “a poor work-life balance,” the researchers calculated. However, this does not apply to everyone. Some night workers indicated they are positive about the experience.
Previous research already showed that people who regularly work at night run a higher risk of various health problems. For example, the Dutch Health Council wrote in a report in 2017 that there is “strong evidence” for long-term health risks. The longer someone works nighttime hours, the higher the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Sleeping problems are also between 1.5 and 2 times more common among night workers.
When the Health Council’s report was published, approximately 1.3 million people in the Dutch working population sometimes or regularly worked at night. At that time, the government was already advised to limit night work where possible.
However, this has proven difficult in practice. “Employers, employees and company doctors see few opportunities to reduce nighttime work,” the RIVM wrote in the study published on Thursday. Automation and the introduction of on-call services are mentioned as possible solutions for the future.
The researchers used data from some 400,000 employees and 127 employers. They also conducted fifty interviews with night workers and spoke with employers and occupational physicians.
Reporting by ANP