3 tips for caring for the mental health of shift workers
How employers can manage staff wellbeing during the pandemic
2020 has been one of the toughest years ever for businesses. Not just financially, but the impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of workers has been hugely challenging.
According to research by the mental health charity, Mind, more than half of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health has gotten worse during the period of lockdown restrictions in 20201.
Christian Brøndum, CEO at the workplace management platform, Planday, comments: “While increased awareness and conversation about mental health is an important step in the right direction, shift and gig economy workers are seeing an increase in stresses and demands due to the pandemic, which can make managing their mental health even more challenging.”
Christian provides some top tips on how employers can take greater care of the mental health and wellbeing of employees in the industry, particularly during the pandemic:
1. Plan shift schedules far in advance
“Where possible, create your schedule at least one month in advance. This might be a difficult task due to the constant review of government guidelines, but it’s still important to try to schedule as far ahead as possible. According to psychologists, planning things in advance leads to less stress and more happiness2.
“Unfortunately, one of the most stressful things about shift work is that you often don’t know when you’ll be working and when you’ll be off. Whether it’s trying to balance something like family commitments, or study — or even something like finding the time to exercise and look after yourself — unpredictability can complicate your self-care no matter what you do for work. This can be particularly difficult in fast-paced industries, such as retail.
“Too many managers post their staff work schedules once a week, for the coming week. For example, a manager might post their schedule every Sunday, and that schedule begins the very next day. Or some stores simply post a paper schedule on the wall, so employees who don’t work on Sundays have to either come in on their day off or call to find out when they’re working next.”
2. Respect employees’ requests to work or not work particular shifts
“ In addition to planning work schedules in advance, it’s important to allow your employees to choose which days and times they want to work. According to research by Office Team (a staffing service), flexible scheduling was employees’ top answer when they were asked about benefits that best support work-life balance3.
“People have other responsibilities besides work. We all do!
“Whether that’s family needs, medical appointments or social functions that they want to attend. Whatever the reason, giving them this bit of autonomy in their schedules will help to reduce stress and improve their mental health.”
3. Allow employees to swap shifts if necessary
“As a manager, you know that urgent needs often pop up at the last minute. Perhaps an employee’s child gets sick or there is a death in the family. Or maybe the employee just really needs a day off to unwind and focus on their mental health.
“In these situations, it’s important that you give your employees the option to change their work schedules by swapping shifts. This doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, investing in planning software gives you this capability with zero effect on your business operations.
“Shift work can be stressful, especially if employees pick up shifts or receive their schedules very last minute. This makes it difficult for them to plan their lives.
“Planning your shift schedules in advance, allowing employees to choose their availability, and giving them the option to swap shifts, will go a long way toward caring for your employees’ mental health.”
For more information and advice on how to care for the mental health of shift workers, visit: https://www.planday.com/blog/why-you-should-promote-work-life-balance-in-your-workplace-and-how-to-do-it/