People who work at night are more than 2.5 times more likely to have a poor work-life balance. They find it more difficult to combine their jobs and private lives than people who only work in daytime. This is one of the results of a study by RIVM and TNO.

The researchers interviewed 50 night-shift workers. Most workers said working at night means spending less time with their families or partners. One reason for this is that they feel tired. They also feel less like socialising on their days off. But this only applies to some people who work at night. Some mentioned that working at night actually makes it easier for them to manage their private lives.

Solutions to reduce adverse health effects

The researchers also explored solutions to reduce the adverse health risks of working at night. Employers, night workers and occupational physicians saw few opportunities to reduce night work. Solutions mentioned were, for instance, new technology (automation) and stand-by shifts. Most night workers however, do not prefer such shifts, as these are perceived as bad for their sleep quality and work-life balance. In conclusion, all stakeholders interviewed felt it would be difficult to reduce night work. This makes it extra important to find solutions and ways to implement them. Night workers themselves also had ideas: fewer tasks at night and sharing experiences with each other.

Giving a good example

Occupational physicians and employers indicated that the implementation of measures is more successfully promoted when managers are enthusiastic about the measures and adopt them themselves. Occupational physicians also said that it is important if they can explain the added value to employers, for example in terms of sustained employability. They also emphasised that measures do not need to lead to less productivity. For employers, it is important that there is enough budget for the implementation of measures. At the same time, they indicated that applying for funding sometimes takes a long time.

About the study

RIVM and TNO carried out this study on night work with subsidy from Institute Gak. They interviewed 50 night workers and interviewed employers and occupational physicians. The researchers also used survey data from almost 400,000 employees and 127 employers. More information about this study can be found in the brochure. The brochure is available on this RIVM web page about working at night (only in Dutch).