Updated: Nov 22
One of the less glamorous aspects of living in a society that places significant value on easy access to goods and services is that shifts are common. From full-time employment, part-time jobs, and overtime, modern life necessitates substantial flexibility from employees. This can make evaluating work-life balance difficult for workers whose chosen career path involves working outside the 9-to-5 schedule.
How shift work impacts work-life balance
Shift work is necessary in the modern world, but unfortunately, on an individual level, it implies many adverse effects – from circadian rhythm disruption, job strain, and sleep deprivation to reduced quality of life and problematic social and family life. According to a study conducted by Indian J Occup Environ Med., the negative impact on shift workers’ quality of life is closely related to anxiety and irritability, general professional satisfaction issues, the inability to manage domestic tasks properly, and the unavailability to participate in family and social activities. Another research showcased that almost 50% of respondents believe that shift work impacts the quality of their family life. The participants included parents, divorced individuals, married individuals, and bachelors. Fathers indicated a lack of contact with their family and irregular meal consumption. Moreover, when both parents do shift work, they often deal with single-parent-specific challenges while finding it more difficult to bond with the child, especially in the early years of life. Prolonged absence, increased levels of irritability, and lack of patience in child communication and interaction often leads to family conflict.
What can be done to help shift workers improve their life-work balance
The need for shift workers won’t decrease anytime soon, as many of them fall into the “essential worker” category. Finding a balance between work and personal life is partially in their power, but changes need to be made at institutional levels as well. Timewise created a model aiming to tackle this issue for shift workers in the UK, but it can be easily adapted to any other market.
The model stipulates that employers need to consider the following aspects:
Input into the schedule. Employees should have the liberty to express their preferences regarding their work patterns.
Advance notice of the schedule. Employees should know in advance how their shift work pattern changes.
Stability of the schedule. Employees should benefit from as much shift work pattern stability as possible.
Combined, all these factors could provide enough clarity to enable shift workers to handle their responsibilities outside of work, make plans, and manage their personal lives better.
How rostering automation can contribute
Employers striving to boost their workforce satisfaction in shift work conditions should consider implementing a rostering automation solution to support their efforts. An AI-powered Workforce Management solution like SkyRoster, designed to help ANSPs in their planning process, can become a strong asset. If you are interested to know more about how to boost the well-being of your air traffic controllers with rostering automation, you can check out this article. SkyRoster will also help ANSPs balance their goals, increase productivity and efficiency, reduce costs, operate at optimal safety levels, and enhance employee satisfaction.
From the work-life balance perspective, such a solution can:
Provide flexibility and easy shift swapping. By empowering your workforce with a sense of power over their shifts, you will reduce absenteeism, increase satisfaction, improve retention and boost productivity.
Monitor fatigue levels and take action accordingly. By automatically monitoring the number of hours worked, shift patterns, tasks performed, and breaks taken, you can identify ATCOs at risk of burnout and implement sustainable changes to prevent it.
Offer predictable and fair rostering. Predictive rostering makes your employees feel in control of their personal and professional lives, which leads to increased levels of satisfaction and work performance. Workers who are informed of their shifts in advance can plan their lives and adjust their sleep schedule incrementally to prevent fatigue.
A recent study shows that for every 1% invested in predictive rostering, companies are 7x more likely to see a productivity improvement.
The bottom line
Shift workers are most likely to have difficulties maintaining their work-life balance. Their schedule can often encompass night shifts, long shifts, rotating shifts, and more, meaning that the rest of their lives must adapt to accommodate an unpredictable schedule.
Delegating shift planning and scheduling to a rostering automation solution is the next step towards responsible workforce management.
P.S. Here is our free e-Copy about the pains and gains of Air Traffic Controllers, which will help you understand the benefits of automated rostering.