What are the disadvantages of shift work ?

  • Shift work or rotational shifts have a number of advantages as well as disadvantages. Advantages, in my opinion, far outnumber the disadvantages, but they are there nonetheless and this article aims at discussing each of these points briefly for the enlightenment of the reader. Read our article on the advantages of shift work before forming an opinion so you can take an informed decision.
  • Unsettling normal schedules: People tend to lead their lives in some pattern or other ? such as getting up at 7.00 am having breakfast at 10.00 am, working, having lunch at 1.00 pm, taking a brief rest, working and socializing after 6.00 pm. Such patterns tend to grow into almost automation of routine and any deviation upsets our balance. For example, people feel tired when taking up the night shift as they do not get quality sleep during day-time. Some feel odd with the regular shift after getting used to the night shift because they cannot manage the change in sleeping and eating pattern, and so on. Besides, these people who work on shifts tend to neglect socializing because they are so much not-up-to-it due to the constant schedule changes.
  • Inequality among shifts: Sometimes, but not always, shifts are determined according to seniority ? the seniors being given the best shift (usually the day shift), less seniors the evening and the juniors the night shifts. This way, each shift becomes a world of its own which cannot really grow because of the total segregation of skills. Most organizations however, after observing this trend, make it a point to have a healthy mix of all levels of workers to maintain the quality of work.
  • Work imbalance: As with the imbalance of skills ? sometimes there is imbalance of work loads. For example, hospitals will have greater demand on the ICU nursing staff during the night because most of the fatalities occur in the wee hours of the morning, while the day staff though having sufficient work, will not be as pressurized. In the same manner, 24 hours call centers will have their peak and off-peak times where the customer service personnel will be assailed with almost continuous calls, while other shifts will have a highly reduced number of calls.
  • Safety: Though new and better law enforcement are being applied all the time for women in particular, still the night shifts create a lot of risks in outside the working premises. To be fair, the safety matters also extend to men who have to commute at odd hours. There are muggings, robberies and even rape when one commutes at odd hours. This is why most organizations who value their skilled staff provide to-and-fro travelling facilities.
  • Health concerns: While you are young the body can take a fair amount of oscillation in habits of sleeping and eating. But as you grow older, there is an inherent inertia that will not allow you to abuse your body with as much ease. This obstruction usually sets in around your mid-thirties. When you are exposed to shift work around that age, you will definitely develop some or other health problems such gastritis, acidity, insomnia, indigestion, blood pressure to name a few. This is why companies seek young professionals for the shift work and have fixed shifts for seniors.