“When there is a shift worker in the family, it is a shift work family.”
If you are the family member of a shift worker, you know that the challenges of shift work are not just reserved for the workplace. Yet most spouses and family members are rarely taught how to deal with these challenges. When we do presentations for shift workers, we preface the presentation with instructions to take the presentation handbook home and get it into the hands of family members. This ensures that whatever the shift worker has learned will also be available to the family members.
See our publication Working ‘Round the Clock.
See also Shiftwise Personal Posters. Employers can provide these to shift workers to take home and share with their families.
Employers can also organize a Family Day at the workplace. This allows family members to meet other shift work families and share concerns and coping strategies.
Myth or Fact?
Shiftworkers have a greater incidence of marital breakdown.
In one group of 13 male shift work employees, 11 were divorced! The two who were still with their long-time partners were considered very much the exception. Everyone in this group understood the major impact shift work has on personal relationships.
Though rates of marital breakdown are usually not as high as in this particular group, the rates among shift workers are still higher than the norm. If you have been a shift worker, you are well-aware that it is much more difficult to sustain a relationship with the extra stress of irregular sleep and wake times. Add to this, the fact that even when the shift worker is at home and awake, they may be fatigued and not in the best frame of mind to give energy to their family and partner.
The best strategy for maintaining relationships through shift work is to put a premium on learning and practising effective communication skills. It is also very useful for the spouse to learn about shift work and the impact it has on the worker. This will help them to be more empathetic with their partner.
To learn more, order ‘Working ‘Round the Clock’ for your family or invite family members to a presentation at your workplace.