As a shift work veteran and trainer, I often wonder is shift work training really necessary. That is, is it absolutely necessary to give people an induction and heads up on what they’re about to get themselves into?
The simple answer to that is absolutely.
Starting any new job can be stressful at the best of times, but when you’re about to undertake a role that involves working crazy and erratic hours I feel that companies and organisations have an obligation to inform and educate their staff on the perils of having to work shift work.
You see the benefits of shift work training are two-fold.
When you provide new staff (and existing staff for that matter), with the knowledge and tools to help them to cope with having to work irregular hours sick leave decreases, morale increases and even more beneficial to any organisation – productivity increases.
Increased productivity means increased profits.
We all know that’s a win-win scenario for everyone.
Now when I think back to my very first day of working shift work (gosh that was so many years ago now), I have to say that I was never really given any shift-work training per se.
I had a very intensive month of training which included product and system knowledge which provided me with the tools to undertake my job, but I certainly received no training (or warning) on what was about to happen to my overall health and well-being from having to get up at 2:00am in the morning.
I’ve had many, many shifts over the years which have required me to start at 3:00am (as I’m sure you can relate too), and they hurt – really hurt.
And the once friendly and harmonious relationship which existed between my alarm clock and I soon began to head down a rather perilous and downward spiral. In fact I could safely say it was skating on thin ice because I really, really struggled with shift work when I first got started.
In fact to this day I still struggle – but I’ve since become much wiser and now take more responsibility for my health that I ever did before.
And here lies the key. As good as shift work training is – if you’re not prepared to take responsibility for your life, then any type of training is going to be a waste of time.
Which is why I have listed my Top 5 Shift Work Training Tips as below:
1. Take responsibility for your health. You are in total control on what does and does not go into your mouth – no exceptions.
2. Focus on improving the quality of your sleep as opposed to stressing out on how little little sleep you are getting.
3. Keep moving. To stay energized our bodies need to exercise. Even if you’re feeling totally exhausted, try and allocate as little as 10 minutes a day to exercise. A leisurely walk around the block can work wonders on your mental and physical health.
4. Enlist your family and friends for support. Their help and understanding when it comes to certain sacrifices that you will have to make will make a huge difference to your life – both in and out of work.
5. Stop eating junk. Your body needs high quality, nutrient dense food in order to function at its peak. Just like you car won’t run on contaminated fuel, nor will your body move easily if it’s carrying extra weight and toxins.
Each and every one of these elements are critical in improving any employees overall health and well-being, but even more so when you work shift work.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly wish somebody had shared those 5 simple tips with me before I started shift work some 21+ years ago … it would have been a much smoother and less perilous roller-coaster ride!