The night shift presents a unique set of challenges for both employees and managers.
Being on the job at a time when the body naturally wants to sleep takes a mental and physical toll. Night shift workers are more vulnerable to on-the-job fatigue and feelings of isolation, which can result in more mistakes and lower employee engagement.
Supervisors can’t do anything about the circadian rhythms of their employees, but they can do something to mitigate the negative impacts of shift work.
Make safety the top priority
You can support your employees’ safety by taking additional steps to create a workplace that helps night shift employees stay alert. Ensure that lighting is bright enough to stimulate employees and partly compensate for the lack of daylight. Think about noise levels and ways to get rid of work areas that are quiet or have soothing sounds by letting employees listen to music or podcasts.
It is also essential to think about the temperature of the working environment, as an environment that is too warm can induce sleepiness. Circulating fresh, cool air can help employees stay refreshed and alert.
Shift workers have many challenges when it comes to sleep. One challenge is a sleep schedule that is very different from the one their families and friends have. Another challenge is a different meal schedule, since they typically eat “lunch” in the middle of the night.
When developing a schedule for night shift workers, you must consider a number of factors, in particular, minimizing last-minute overtime and schedule changes. Getting input from night shift employees and supervisors can make this task easier and increase buy-in from these individuals.
Be vigilant about communication
People who work night shift often feel out of the loop when it comes to company news and developments.
Night shift workers should be kept abreast of all work-related developments as they would if they worked the day shift. In addition to having easy access to important information, night shift workers should occasionally be the first ones to hear any big news, since the tendency is to announce big news during the day.
It’s also essential to ask for feedback on company developments. Give your night shift workers a chance to share their thoughts, both publicly and privately.
Give significant task flexibility
Because of their greater challenge to stay alert, night shift employees should be allowed to break up monotonous tasks or do them in an order that suits them, so long as it doesn’t affect quality or productivity. For instance, if they have to do physically challenging, mentally challenging or dangerous work, they should be able to do it when they first come in. Giving night shift flexibility in how they work to keep safe and alert can avoid injuries and make the shift easier.
Night shift employees actually need workplace chit-chat. Often maligned, watercooler chat can actually help build camaraderie, which is essential for workers who are in danger of feeling isolated. Be sure night shift workers have the leeway to socialize a bit and make an extra effort to have them attend various social events.
Partner with Cornerstone Staffing Solutions!
At Cornerstone, we regularly connect our clients to the talent they need for their night shift operations. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your organization.