People Employed For Shift Work Social Work Essay

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Over the last decade in India , boom in the IT and the BPO sector brought about an increase in the number of people employed for shift work . Employers face tough competition from other companies and the global business environment . In order to increase productivity and to make themselves available to employers and consumers based abroad , many companies work round the clock and have made provisions for night shift work . Increase in job opportunities in this sector has also given rise to dual earner families and more women entering the work force , working in day shifts as well as non standard work hours . This paper focuses on women who work in the night shift . While night shift jobs may have its perks and financial benefits , there are many disadvantages that add to the stress of the daily life of the employees . To explain night shift schedule , it can be defined as work schedule that is full time , extending after midnight with atleast 8hours and 5 days work , which means that the employees are expected to work in the dark and sleep during the day , bringing in major alterations to their life styles and the life styles of those living with them . Night shift work can vary in terms of fixed or rotating patterns . In a fixed schedule , the employee works in the night shift on a permanent basis , where as in a rotating schedule , the employee alters between day shifts , evening and night shifts depending on the arrangements made by the employers .

Physical and mental Health

There have been numerous studies conducted to examine the effects night shift work has on health , sleep , circadian rhythms and mental health . Findings from research studies that explore health disorders of shift workers stated that there is a relationship between certain medical disorders and shift work . Evidence stated that heart and gastro intestinal problems and complications in pregnancy outcomes , ulcers were some of the medical disorders commonly faced by shift workers (Knuttson 2003 ) .A study conducted on nurses working in


the night shift reported that shift workers have a higher prevalence of physiological problems like digestion problems caused by change in eating patterns, inadequate sleep , fatigue , colds , muscle pains , cramps and heart problems .

Disturbance to the normal sleep cycle or the circadian rhythms is likely to cause shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), especially when employees are working in the night shift for prolonged periods . Insomnia and excessive sleepiness while working non standard schedules are the primary signs of SWSD . Desire to take short naps , dozing off while at work , shorter and lowered quality of sleep , poor work performance , reduced mental accuracy are some of the negative effects brought about by SWSD , which inturn leads to the expression of psychological syptoms like irritability , anger , erratic mood and depression . A study conducted on dairy workers in India working in the night shift examined stress levels , health and mood states and provided evidence that night shift workers face higher work stress , negative mental health outcomes and life stress . Role over load , increased work -home conflict , role ambiguity were significant indicators of increased stress levels and mood states

. Findings also indicated that night shift work did increase physcial , physiological , psychological and social problems when compared to day shift workers (Srivastava , 2010 ) .

There has been an upsurge of interest in studying mental health effects of shift workers .Early research studies have shown evidence that night shift work is associated with depression . Findings from a study that examined the effects of physical health and mental depression due to night shift in nurses revealed that disruption in the circadium rhythm has a direct influence on physical health and depression , reducing quality of life and affecting work performance and social relations . Another model in this study suggested that job schedule limited participation in social activities , affecting social and personal life leading to depression . (Skipper & Jung , 1990 ) . Burn out , lethargy , exhaustion , irritability , anger or psychological symptoms like irritability , depression not only affect personal well being ,


but can also affect one’s social life and satisfaction of their marital relationship (Fam , Econ

& Iiss , 2007) . The negative consequences that affect physical , psychological , psychosocial well being can seep into the workers marriage , reducing the quality , stability and satisfaction of marital relationship adding to existing stressors .

Since this paper focuses on marital satisfaction of night shift workers and the strategies they use to make their marriage work , the definition of marital satisfaction will help gain an understanding as to what this paper purports to examine and the aspects that need to be considered . According to Stone (2007) Marital satisfaction reflects a mental state of percieved benefits and costs of a marriage to a particular person . The more costs the partner inflicts on a person , the less satisfied one generally is with their marriage and with their marriage partner . Similarly the greater the percieved benefits are , the more satisfied one is with their marriage and their marriage partner . Some of the components that come under marital satisfaction would be leisure time spent together , communication , conflict resolution etc . But the challenges that shift workers have to face in their marriage is to face new demands posed due to their work schedule . This would involve them to make adjustments on the home front , especially for female employees , since they have added roles and responsibilities to perform . For a marriage to work , one of the important aspects of marital satisfaction is leisure time spent together . But for a night shift worker , because of the work schedule , quality time and the quality of leisure time spent together would be lower . Quality time would involve the married partners to indulge in favoured activities and pursue shared interests . Weekends seem to be the only time workers could indulge in leisure time with their partners . For a night shift worker , weekends would be used to recuperate from the week’s stress , which could lead to lowered quality of leisure time spent together . Leisure satisfaction especially if the leisure activities performed are favoured by the couple is related to marital satisfaction (Heather , Zabriskie , Hill & Brian , 2009) Also , Contribution to


leisure time by night shift workers in their marriage would be less because of the disruption between the workers time off and the family’s time off .

Work would come in the way of some of the family’s rituals , for which the worker would be absent or too tired to be part of , like being present at the table at meal times , going out together , attending community events etc . The worker would either be working into the night or would be sleeping and recuperating from work .

Social and community life .

Since most community and social activities take place in the evening , a night shift employee would probably find difficulty in making time for such events. While weekends provide time to engage in social activities , a night shift employee might be too tired and may not be able to give in fully to social activities as their schedule and life style causes inconvenience to enjoy a social life and for the couple to participate in community activities . In a study that was conducted on families of workers working a modern shift roster , 67.2% of employees reported that night shift work frequently intervened in their social life . This could result in the worker having poor social support in the long run , unless the worker can maintain a balance between work and time for socialization . Social support also helps improve a person’s psychological state , their mood and feelings about themselves .

Women shift workers challenges .

A changing work force has led to an increase in women entering the work force and women opting for non standard work schedule , challenging traditional roles that women held and bringing about changes in family dynamics . The challenges that a woman shift worker has to face is to fulfill multiple roles ie to fulfill family and role obligations , needs and expectations of the family , fulfill social obligations by being part of community activities and fulfill responsibilities at the work front . Women face more role strain when compared to men as a result , night shift work exacerbates and intensifies the stress that women employees have


to face . For a married woman night shift worker maintaining work to home balance and reducing work-home conflict would be a major hurdle .

Cambridge dictionary defines work-home balance as the “amount of time you spend doing the job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy” . Shift work is linked with work-home conflict and this conflict is faced more by women when compared to men (Tuttle & Garr , 2012) .

Barnett and Baruch ( 1985 ) define.role balance as “rewards minus concerns” , more rewards recieved from a particular role and less concerns experienced would lead to a positive role qualtiy where in lower levels of role conflicts,role overload and anxiety is faced . Considering that employed women working the night shift face role strain , rewards recieved in one of the roles could reduce role conflict and stress and increase well being . If family support is one of the positive role quality on the home front , it is likely that job involvement and control over job would increase .

Following role theory , Greenhaus (2003) in his theory of work-home balance , describes work home balance as a continuum where in imbalance in family role lies on one end and balance in work role lies at the other . Greenhaus theory on work – family enrichment includes three concepts . Time balance ie equal time invested , Involvement balance ie psychological effort and physical presence expressed and Satisfaction balance ie rewards and satisfaction recieved from both work and family front . Frone (2003) views work-family balance as bi directional . Engaging in one role or domain can either create conflicts or enhances the other domains . Involvement in the family role can either enhance the work domain or create conflicts in the work domain and involvement in work domain can wither create conflicts or enhance the family domain .

Stress .

Bodenmann ( 2005 ) defines stress as a dyadic phenomenon which involves common


concerns , emotional intimacy between the partners and maintaining a close relationship .

Dyadic stress concerns a stressful event which confronts the couple , the source of stress could be external , originating between the couple like job stress , culture , society , other relations etc , or could be internal , originating within one of the partners or when the stress of one of the partners seeps into relationship . The impact stress has on one couple will be different for another . It is therefore important to take into consideration the locus of stress , duration and intensity of stress . The locus of stress could either be external or internal . When there is an interaction between the social environment and the couple’s relationship causing conflicts and internal stress originates within the couple relationship like job stress , personal needs and desires etc .Intensity of stress can be either major or minor and can be measured based on the impact the stressor has had on the relationship and the duration of stress can be seen as acute or chronic ie temporary or prolonged

Bodenmanns stress – divorce model analyses the effects minor daily stressors , acute or chronic in nature , on stability and functioning of marital relationships . External stressors , those coming outside the couple system can prove to be more damaging to relationships . such external stressors are usually outside of couple’s conscious awareness and are minor stressors (time spent together , communication) and not major (critical life events), causing mutual alienation over time , if the stressor is persistent , causing dissatisfaction with the marital relationship ,eventually leading to divorce .

According to Bodenmann , external stressors cause impact on marital relationships by decreasing the amount of time spent together so that there are fewer joint expereiences between the couple leading to a lowered feeling of togetherness , poor coping at times of stress . This would eventually lead to a poorer quality of communication and interaction . Interaction between the couple would be largely negative , driving the couple to withdrawing from each other . These stressors leading to deterioration in the quality and stability of


marriage would later increase risk of physical and psychological problems like trouble sleeping , sexual dysfunction etc . The impact and reaction to these stressors would eventually lead to negative expression of emotions between the couple like anger , anxiety , increasing conflicts . This entire process would lead to couples alienating and withdrawing from each other . The situation they have landed themselves in would lead to marital disatisfaction , eventually leading to divorce if the problem persists .

Bodenmann’s model can be applied to a shift workers marriage . Since night shift schedule makes it inconvenient for the couple to indulge in shared experiences and quality time . The job schedule and stress from the job can be seen as a stressor that doesn’t permit quality time between the couple . The couple might feel that the amount of time spent together is less eventually leading to poor quality of interaction . When joint experiences shared are lower and the amount of interaction between the couple is low , there could be instances when one of the partner feels lonely and might percieve that the quality of their marriage is deteriorating leading to expression of negative emotions like anger , frustration , sadness . Eventually appraising their marriage as dissatisfying .

The effects that shift work has on the physical and mental health of workers can seep into their marital relationships . They sleep during the day when the entire household is active which disturbs their sleep adding to marital distress . Psychological symptoms like irritability , depression can bring down the level of satisfaction of their marriage . Since they feel tired and fatigued frequently , engaging in leisure activities with their spouses becomes difficult . With there being hardly any time for contact , communication becomes difficult

between the spouses , which is essential in a relationship . There are many problems that night shift work poses to a workers marriage . This study seeks to find strategies that workers who are satisfied in their marriages use to overcome problems induced by night shift work .


Rationale : There have been studies conducted to understand and analyse the impact shift work has on the lives of employees , their physical and mental health , social life and their families .With many of the problems faced by shift workers being covered , this study seeks to gain insight into what makes a shift workers marriage work and explores strategies they use to make their marriage work and to study how night shift employees maintain work – home balance .


Review of literature

Following studies discussed analyze the effects shift work has on health , general well being , and on marital relations .

This study analyses the impact that non standard work hours versus standard work hours has on marital satisfaction in five domains which are global distress , problem solving communication , time together , sexual dissatisfaction and affective communication , measured by marital satisfaction inventory , which is a 280 item questionaire that assesses certain domains of marital satisfaction .30 employees who worked the day shift and 20 night shift employees at Western Union in New jersey were selected for the study . The research was built around 5 hypotheses . Hypotheses 1 predicted that day shift workers when compared with non day shift workers would display higher levels of marital satisfaction . Hypotheses 2 predicts that day shift workers would express better problem solving communication and there would be fewer conflicts in their marriage when compared to non day shift workers . Hypotheses 3 predicted that the time spent in quality and leisure time by day shift workers with their spouses would be higher when compared to non day shift workers . Hypotheses 4 predicts that day shift workers would experience higher levels of sexual satisfaction with their spouses when compared to non day shift workers .Hypotheses 5 predicted that day workers would be more content in their marriage because of the affection and understanding provided by their spouses . ( Lauf-Goldstein ,1990) research findings could not support the predictions of any of the hypotheses . Unlike many other studies on shiftwork’s influence on marriage , this study proved that there was not much difference in marital satisfaction between day shift and non day shift workers.

The study summarises the effects and consequences of shift work while discussing some of the benefits of shift work ( Finn ,1981). The information for this article is derived from many of the studies conducted on employees who work non standard hours in and


outside the U.S.A . Some may accept night shift work because of lack of job opportunities while some would use their night shift work schedule as an opportunity to hold a part time day job as well or pursue education during the day . Night shift work also provides for financial incentives and accomodates employees who function better at night than during the day . The drawbacks are that it takes a toll on ones health , interfering with the normal sleep cycle and reducing the quality of sleep and appetite and causing physical and emotional problems . On the job accidents would also rise if the employees would have to handle machinery . In terms of family life , shift workers experience more work – home conflict because of the discrepency between the workers time off and the spouse’s time off . The workers spouse would have to adjust to the shift workers job schedule and would have to alter their patterns to their working spouse’s atypical pattern inorder to be able to spend quality time for leisure , meals and recreation . This would take a toll on the mental and physical health of the shift workers spouse especially if theyre working the day shift . The time a shift worker gets to spend time with family could also be poor in quality because they experience fatigue and sleepiness and would find difficulty in carrying out normal activities with their spouses or would show less interest in attending social events or go out together to spend quality time . Sexual activity is another aspect that is interfered by night shift work .In terms of social life , it becomes difficult for a shift worker to attend events for which they’re invited by their friends . It becomes difficult for the spouse to plan any social activity before hand . From this article it becomes evident that shift work impairs one’s physical and mental health , their family life , job safety and social life .

A study conducted in Netherlands examines the effects non standard shifts have on partnership quality through semi structured interviews . Findings reveal that women were more dissatisfied with varying hours , especially if they had children , as it created stress


when compared to men . Men found varying hours more comfortable for tag team parenting . The research explored into the relationship between non standard hours and its effects on marriage . The results indicated a weak link between non standard shift and relationships indicating that non standard work hours did not reduce relationship quality. The study also found that partner support in families with night shift workers , expressed more satisfaction with their relationship which reduced the negative effects that non standard work has on relationships ( Mills & Kadri , 2010) .

This study assessed both percieved family well being and stressors influenced by non standard work schedule in two studies (Kelly , Amy & David , 2008). The goal of this study was to assess work-family spill over and whether the spill over was positive or negative and if working non standard work hours decreased marital instability . The study was conducted on 1166 people aged between 25 – 74 . Findings of the study revealed that night shift work increased marital instability and also increased negative work – home spill over , which are the attitudes , experiences of work transferred to home . Since night shift work can come in the way of ones sleep cycle causing fatigue and stress , the stress gets carried into the workers family life .Stress increases with the presence of a child at home since workers have the added responsibililty to care for the child and causes stress at a daily level .

This study investigates the association between shift work and family satisfaction and goes a step further by including people from different work backgrounds into their sample instead of analysing people from one company or a particular type of work . This study also examines different categories of shift from day , evening , night , rotating to split shift and hypothesises that workers experience family satisfaction in degrees , with satisfaction being higher for day shift and lessens as it progresses towards split shift . The study also examines the relationship between the number of work hours , job autonomy and nature of job on family satisfaction . Findings indicated that being in a non standard , non flexible job reduced


family satisfaction , especially for evening and night shift workers (Davis , Goodman , Piretti & Almeida , 2008). The study also revealed that job autonomy and the nature of the job and work atmosphere resulted in high family satisfaction , since work – family spillover would be less .

168 fire personnel from 3 working shifts were part of this study . The purpose of this study was to examine the effects that the 3 types of shift work has on emotional exhaustion as it pertains to work – family conflict and social support (Jonathon & Halbesleben , 2009). The subjects were made to complete measures on emotional exhaustion , work – family conflict and support and demographic controls .The study revealed that work to home conflict increases when the shift work is more demanding and when time spent at home is less

. This work – home conflict can also contribute to emotional exhaustion in fire fighters . The support that an employee recieves from ones family can break down the stress that an employee faces at night shift work . The study suggests that the schedule should make allowance for the employees to be able to spend more time at home , so that with quality time spent with family could lead to building emotional support for the night shift employee .

This research study examines the relationship between shift work and work to family fit . The study hypothesis that employees working in the non standard shift would have poor work to family fit when compared to those employees working in the day shift or flexible hours and also examines if negative work – home spillover would be less if the employees had control over their work schedule . The study took 2008 national study of workforce to examine the influence shift work has over employees . (Tuttle & Garr 2012) indicated that shift work did largely influence work – home conflict , especially in female employees even if the control over shift schedule was more . In the case of men , the results revealed that men had less work to family conflict when they had a greater control over their schedule .


This study examines the effects of shift work on marital quality on six domains .

Marital happiness , interaction , disagreements , general problems , sexual problems and child related problems (White & Keith 1990) . National panel of 1668 men and women were interviewed.. The result revealed that shift work does have a negative impact on marriage . Every domain that the study examined were also affected negatively due to shift work .

This study investigates the effects night shift has on marital relations (Messer , 1992) . 65 married men , with 19 full time employees at grocery stores and 46 full time employees of the southern california state departments were chosen for the study.. The employees worked consistent morning , evening , night and rotating shifts . Marital satisfaction inventory was used to assess the level of marital satisfaction / distress . Findings revealed that night shift workers experienced higher work – home conflict when compared to day shift workers . The study predicted that people working in consistent day shifts , evening shift , night shift ,and inconsistent rotating shifts would experience different levels of job satisfaction . The results suggest that employees working different shifts express different levels of job satisfaction , with rotating shift workers being most dissatisfied with their work schedule because of the inconsistency of the work schedule .

The impact of different timings of work and rotating shift on Work – home conflict , job satisfaction and health among the military police is the focus of the study . The study was conducted on 3122 Dutch military police . (Demerouti , Sabine , Arnold & Euwema , 2004) revealed that non day shift work resulted in work – home conflicts . The findings also revealed that employees from the rotating shifts experienced low job satisfaction since it is inconsistent

. Consistency in the timing of shift even if its a non standard work hour didn’t result in low job satisfaction when compared to rotating shifts , but only incr eased work – home conflict .

An article in hindustan times reports that night shift work can disrupt ones life in many ways . David maumes research on the effects of shift work on marriage suggests that


both men and women feel that night shift work affects and strains their marital relations . Women are more affected than men by shift work due to role strain . It becomes difficult for them to manage time and to fulfill responsibilites at home , engage with their family members and care for them when compared to men causing strain in their marriage and increasing work -home conflict .

The study is built around three themes .Economic trade offs , family routines and emotional adjustments (Handy ,2010) . With night shift work comes financial benefits . In many families , the members have to adjust around the shift workers routines and patterns , spouses would have to give up their own jobs so as to manage family life . Financial benefits comes in handy , making it comfortable to rely on the shiftworker while the spouse takes care of the family , resorting to traditional family roles .the study also focuses on emotional health of the shift worker . The physiological and psychological effects of shift work could take a toll on ones emotional well being In terms of family routines , the workers had little knowledge of the family routines , since the spouse takes prmary responsibilty to ensure that the family members rituals fall in line with the workers . This shows the amount of effort spouses expend to make the marriage work and play a part in reducing work to home conflicts

Psychopathological symptoms caused by night shift work and its influence on the quality of life of health workers is examined in this study (Dusunen ,2010) . 45 nurses working the night shift were the sample for this study . Symptom checklist and short form 36 was used to measure psychopathological symptoms and quality of life . Night shift nurses reported higher scores for somatization , obsessive compulsive , interpersonal sensitivity , anxiety , paranoid ideation and global severity scores than day shift workers . Shift work also reduced the quality of life and the night shift nurses scored higher on pain and physical function . The study’s implications were to improve the quality of life of the nurses by adjusting their work schedule , keeping in mind the influence night shift has on their


psychological state.

While most studies indicate that night shift work can reduce marital satisfaction and increase work – home conflict , there are few studies which have proved that night shift work doesn’t affect marital relationships . Employees with better control over their schedule and job autonomy and job satisfaction showed having a better family life and marital satisfaction as work – home conflict is less . Greenhaus and powell (2006) came up with a theory called work to family enrichment , a concept that explains that being able to manage time , carrying over the positive mood from work back home and using networks from work to help their families lessened work to home conflict . Some studies also indicate the possibility that couples working the night shift score high on marital satisfaction because they already have conflicts with their spouses , not induced by working the night shift . They find night shift work convenient as they can avoid conflicts at home and interacting with their partners .




This chapter presents results in a tabular format following content analysis . The responses were coded , categorized and placed under a broad category of themes .

Following each table expansive responses as examples are provided by the participants , representing each theme .

Analysis .

Content analysis for the first question “Mention some of the advantages of working in the night shift” revealed 5 themes and are mentioned in a table below .


Table 1.Mention some of the advantages of working in the night shift


Sub – categories

Number of responses

Advantages of night shift.

More pay


Travelling easier


Find time for chores


Husband has experience


in the same field.

The second most frequent theme which accounted for 40% of the responses is easy commuting while working in the night shift . Respondent 9 stated that ,

Respondent 3 stated that “travel time to office and back home is less ” and “the roads are relatively empty while getting out ” says respondent 8 . Travelling to and from work becomes more convenient as traffic will be smooth and the stress involved in travelling


reduces considerably.

30% of the participants responses falls under a category termed as “Find time for chores” . These participants find night shift work favourable as it allows time to complete chores during the day . The following response given by respondent 9 will help describe this theme .

Table 2

Can you list the problems you face working in the night shift


Sub category

Frequency of responses

Disadvantages of night shift.

Less time with partner


Health issues


Partner frustrated.


Worries about having a baby.


Normal routine affected



Relationships and friendships 2 affected.

Analysis for this question revealed 6 themes under the category “Disadvantages of night shift”. The most apparent theme seen as a disadvantage of

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