Bad shift planning can have a negative impact on family and social life, as well as health. How are employees in the Czech Republic coping with shifts, what would they want to change and what would suit them? Déhora conducted a nationwide survey to find answers to those questions.
More than a quarter of employees works in shifts in the Czech Republic. Shift work is mostly found in the production sector, where 31% of employees work in schedules. Shift work is not very popular and it is hard keep on doing it for a long time. According to the Déhora’s survey, only 18% of shift workers has been able to do so for more than 20 years. More than a third of employees (36%) has ended shift work within the first five years. One of the reasons may be poor scheduling by the employer, with a negative impact on physical and mental health, as well as the private life of employees.
The results of the survey show that what employees dislike most about shift work, is how it affects their work-life balance. A third of employees has difficulties with aligning work time with obligations in their private lives. People older than 36 years old (35%) suffer the most from these problems. This was to be expected. Most people around this age already have families with children and need to combine their work with school, clubs and home care related tasks. Also night shifts are a burden. 26% Of respondents answered that this was their biggest problem. This may be due to the fact that after night shifts workers suffer from sustained lack of sleep, much more than after than after other shifts. Night shifts are the worst aspect of shiftwork for almost a third (32%) of 54-65 years old respondents, causing considerable health problems. 27% Of respondents do not like weekend shifts. Under 18 to 35 this is even more (32%). They are losing contact with friends who work regular 9 to 5 work weeks and go out to have fun during the weekends.
Shift employees appreciate especially the free time during the normal working week, with more than half of them agreeing (58%). Another half of respondents in shift work appreciate the possibility to arrange things in the mornings or afternoons for a given shift and the extra pay work in then the night, weekends or holidays.
More than half (57%) of respondents prefer morning shifts. This is the same for all age groups and regions in the Czech Republic. Obviously this is because they are most natural to the human biorhythm and therefore the least social and physical disruptive. The least popular among all ages are afternoon shifts, with a preference only 16%. The exception are young people aged 18 to 26, who prefer the afternoon shifts to the night shifts. Only 12% of them would choose to work at night. At the same time, with a preference score of 27% of all respondents night shifts are not so bad in the overall rating. This could be because of the extra pay night shifts generate and, day workers and managers not being there, they are often perceived as more quiet, they are less disturbed when doing their job. Overall people like schedules with 8 hour shifts (57%) more than those with 12 hour shifts (43%).
According to the Czech survey, more than a third (37%) of employees are working in the most preferred shift model of 8-hour shifts with 5 day in a row. With only 3%, the least frequent are 8-hour shifts models with mostly 3 days in a row. This notwithstanding that for the human body so-called rapid rotation models, with 2 to 4 consecutive shifts are better. Such rotation helps prevent accumulation of sleep deprivation after night and (early) morning shifts. So called slow rotating shift models, with 5 or more equal shifts in a row result in high workload, fatigue and increased risk of health problems. The results of the survey thus show that the planning of shifts of employees in Czech companies is not ideal and employers, but also the employees themselves, are not preventing the influence of badly planned et shifts on health and productivity.
“Based on our experience with clients in the Czech Republic, we know that unadjusted shift models still prevail in domestic companies. Employers are often bound by years of fixed rules that do not take into account the mental and physical needs of employees. Therefore, we advise our clients to give employees greater freedom when planning their shifts. This is the only way for companies to get a more sustainable workforce with satisfied employees, avoid high turnover or illness, and even increase productivity,”says Roman Urban, Senior Déhora Consultant in the Czech Republic.
The results of the survey also show that the employees would be very much in favor of increased worktime autonomy. Almost 94% of those surveyed said they would be happy to be able to plan all or at least some shifts according to their needs. The solution for companies in this regard can be the concept of self-scheduling, which Déhora is introducing to companies in various sectors. It is a method by which the employer allows his employees to plan his or her shifts, as well as potential overtime hours, according to their own preferences, thus optimally combining private life with the work.