As we move towards a 24-hour economy and away from the traditional 9-5 working pattern, the number of UK employees working night shifts is increasing with a forecast to increase further.
In 2017, Britain’s late-night workforce – most prevalent in the security, logistics, manufacturing and healthcare sectors – had reached almost 3.2 million after a 9% rise, according to the TUC.
Even though it may make perfect business sense to keep your business running around the clock, long term exposure to night shift work for your employees may work out to be more costly to both you and your workforce.
Studies show that eating out of sync with the normal 24 hour body clock rhythm – the circadian rhythm – which regulates metabolism, controls lipid and carbohydrate balance and optimizes energy storage for use throughout the day, is disturbed. Sleeping and eating on an irregular schedule – associated with night work – can disrupt triglyceride and cholesterol levels and cause obesity and associated chronic health conditions.
“Night work can play havoc with family and social life and have long-term health impacts. Many of the jobs are tough and often solitary. That’s why night workers deserve strong rights and protections at work, to make sure they can get on with the job safely and happily”
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary
Improving the nutrition of shift workers to be in line with current UK healthy eating recommendations is clearly an important step to improving the nutritional well-being of shift workers. Whilst observational studies report that night shift workers tend to consume a less healthy diet with higher sugars and fats, this is probably down to what is accessible to them in the workplace.
Make healthier food options available to your workforce
The British Dietetic Assocation has recently written a white paper on Healthier Vending with the aim to ultimately bring healthier food and beverage choices to the workplace.
By planning a robust Occupational Health strategy with a specialist in your sector – such as Wrightway Health – who understands the issues, together you can protect and support your workforce.
Workplaces are powerful environments where you can positively influence health for the benefit of individuals, businesses and long-term economic prosperity. If you are able to offer suitable support and keep people in work – whatever the time of day – then it’s a win for them and it’s a win for your business.