One of the users of the MyShiftPlanner app sent us this painfully honest account of the issues he faces working shifts. He was happy for us to publish this anonymously.
“Missing out on life!”
“I’ve worked every sort of shift in my working life. Some have been 9-5, but most of the time I’ve worked evening shifts and night shifts.
The result is that I’ve felt like I’m missing out on life. The majority of people go out in the evening or in daylight hours. When you work shifts, you’re usually either working, sleeping or resting when other people are socialising.
Relationships really take a battering! I’m not there half the time when my partner is up and about. When something crops up and overtime is needed (it’s expected as a matter of course in my industry) I have to work it.
To sum up my personal experiences, I’ve missed out on parties, social gatherings and gigs as a result of shift work. I’m sure it was a contributing factor to a relationship breakdown. Add in the time-sink of commuting, and shift work can often feel like real-life is put on hold for work.
“Health and well-being”
The same also applies to health. While I’m robustly healthy, I’ve had stomach problems that I’ve not been able to address due to spending so many hours at work and commuting. I get little time for exercise, or for looking after myself.
In addition, there’s the general exhaustion that comes from working unusual hours. It has a knock-on effect on general health, work performance and the motivation to do things outside work. Without sufficient planned rest, I can feel myself burning out. I get resentful of work, and then my performance and accuracy suffer.
In addition, the knock-on effect on my social life means all I often want to do when I get in is sit in front of the TV and do nothing. Even on a two-day weekend I don’t do anything. Simply because me and my girlfriend are too tired to go out. It makes me stressed and depressed, with all the negative implications of that.
I work on an industrial estate where there is no canteen. There’s only chocolate machines and companies like Greggs in the surrounding locale. Try eating healthily when you haven’t got anywhere to get healthy food!
One of my colleagues, who drives trucks up and down the country on the nightshift, says preparing food at home is essential for him to keep a healthy diet. Again, this is a knock on effect on general health, as convenience food is often not the healthiest.
“Where’s the support?”
Shift workers need support. The MyShiftPlanner app definitely benefits me. I can see when I need to rest up for and when I need to be in. It helps me plan accordingly, make sure I get mealtimes and gives me the chance to get social events in the calendar too.
I need to be able to go out. But, I need to know far enough in advance that things might be happening to plan ahead. I can see that employers need to use things like this to help employees. If they are happier and healtheir, they’ll arrive fresh at work to do the best job they can.”
An Anonymous Shift Worker (UK) 2018