Workplace Wellness – Don’t Forget About the Shift Worker!
Many wellness programs focus on the 9am to 5pm employees – often forgetting about those who work different shifts. Shift workers are ones who could benefit the most from a wellness program.
These employees need to learn ways to minimize the negative impact of working odd hours on their health and quality of life. Employers need to adapt their wellness initiatives to the shift workers’ lifestyle so they can thrive despite work schedules.
Wellness initiatives can be communicated through presentations, video conferencing, DVDs, podcasts, etc. Whenever possible, offer group meetings. Shift workers know the obstacles they face better than anyone else. There will be some individuals who have already developed positive ways to overcome areas that are still problems for others. If the wellness instructor presents the main points and provides some tips, the group can discuss and share how to best implement some of the healthy behaviors presented.
Topics for healthy shift worker programs:
- Proper hydration. Being dehydrated leads to fatigue.
- The importance of a regular sleep schedule (regardless of when sleep occurs)
- Sleep and weight control – review the research that shows those who get less than 6 hours of sleep have a harder time keeping the weight off.
- Staying connected with family and friends. Discuss the importance of maintaining social interaction.
- Relaxation tips – review pre-sleep rituals to wind down
- Pros and cons of napping. Usually just 20 minutes will help refresh someone who is feeling fatigued.
- Filtering out noise — discuss ear plugs and white noise machines
- Connection between exposure to light and quality sleep. Try to avoid sunlight after the shift. Bright light makes one more alert. Wear sunglasses when leaving work.
- Encourage employees to eat light, small frequent meals/snacks to maintain their energy level throughout their shift.