Night Work and Health – Night Workers Work-Life Balance • This morning’s salary

People who work nights are 2.5 times more likely to have a poor work-life balance. This emerged from research conducted by TNO and RIVM.

In the Netherlands, 1.2 million people work occasionally or regularly at night. Especially in healthcare, production or logistics. The Council of Health (GR) concluded in 2017 that night work increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and sleep problems. Despite the proven health risks, there are a limited number of
Research into the observed effect of the night workers themselves. It is also not known what are the reasons for performing night work. RIVM and TNO combined experience from night workers.

Difficulty combining work and private life

Night workers find it more difficult to combine work and private life than people who work only during the day.

Night workers indicate in interviews that their night work allows them to spend less time with their family or partner. Partly this is due to fatigue. They also have less need for social contacts on days off. But this does not apply to all night workers. Some say they can do special tasks better if they work night shifts.

Solutions for fewer negative consequences

The researchers also looked at solutions to reduce risks to health and well-being (such as work-life balance) for night workers. Employers, employees, and company doctors see few opportunities to do less work at night. According to employers, the mentioned solutions to reduce night work to a small extent is the use of new technology (automation) and on-demand services.

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Night workers are usually less positive about these shifts because they can have a negative impact on sleep quality and work-life balance. Since the interviewees see few opportunities to reduce night work, it is especially important that there is more knowledge about possible solutions and how those solutions can be properly implemented.

Night workers themselves mention different solutions, such as limiting the number of tasks at night or sharing experiences with each other.

Lead by example

Company physicians and employers note that supportive measures are easier to use when managers are excited about a measure and use it themselves. According to OCs, it is also important that they can explain the benefits to the organization, such as sustainable employability, to employers.

They also stress that the measures should not lead to loss of production. Adequate budget for measures is important for employers. At the same time, they point out that applying for a budget can sometimes take a long time.

about the investigation

The research into night work was conducted by TNO and RIVM with support from Instituut Gak. For the study, they interviewed 50 night workers, spoke to employers and occupational physicians, and used survey data from nearly 400,000 employees and 127 employers.

Read more about work-life balance for night workers in the paper: Insight into the impact of night work and possible solutions

Megan Vasquez

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