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3. Why and how might shift work impact on the health of employees? What could be done to minimise the health risks of such work? In modern life shift work becomes a necessary part of life. Shift work is an employment schedule that is not in the usual daytime hours and in which two or more groups of workers work at separate times in the 24 hrs. (Finn, 1981).According to HSE(2006) approximately 14% of people in UK doing shift work in different shifts Some institutions like hospitals, ambulance services, police department, transport industry and some industries needs continuous 24 hrs shift work. But this shift work disrupts the circadian rhythm that can lead to reduction in alertness. The diurnal rhythms control pulse rate, the cardio-pulmonary system, composition of blood, blood pressure, secretions of endocrine glands, appetite and wakening and sleep cycle. So shift work interrupts these natural processes for which the human body is normally programmed. So this can cause compromise in health and safety of the workers. Lack of adequate sleep has produce adverse affects including nervous system related disorders, physical problems which can lead to accidents on job. Fatigue is also the most common reaction in shift workers. Shift work is the main cause of fatigueness in combination with physical, mental and emotional factors that causes exhaustion in workers. Shift work affects the general health and performance of the employees. Because of shift work employees have not follow any routine in their eating habits and they have not regular pattern to sleep and this may produce health problems (Finn, 1981).
According to health and safety perspective all the working hours are not same. Night shifts are more difficult and risky. Working overtime also raises the fatigueness in a worker. This can lead to other accidents. Some workers do shift work with their own choice but mostly do because of economic necessity (ACTU Guidelines on shift work& extended hours, 2000). Mostly people don’t know the extra stress that night shift workers have, is because of work in late night hours. When most people are in their beds, night shift workers are getting ready to work. Night Shifts put negative impact on health of workers because these shifts affect the circadian rhythms of the human body. These circadian rhythms change all over the day and night to regulate different biological functions of body. For example our cardiac rate and the temperature of body changes throughout 24 hrs and this is lowest at 4am and it is on the peak in the mid of afternoon. The circadian rhythms reset after 24 hrs by environmental factors like light and darkness. Temperature of body goes up with the day light and goes down at night. That’s why body is active during daytime, whereas in the night it is meant to sleep for recovering and replacing the energy of the body. But working at night disturbs “biological” clocks that’s why sleeping becomes difficult so workers feel fatigue. Work during night shifts imbalance these rhythms in spite of their regular timing. Because of this, workers who can do night shifts come across problems in sleep, fatigueness, gaining weight and problems related to digestive system. Some of these problems also become chronic diseases. According to study done by the Journal of the National Cancer institute (2001) depicts that the females doing night shifts have more risk of breast cancer because of exposure to light during night which interrupts the production of melatonin (Victoria,2010).A study found that the breast cancer risk is 60% more in women doing night shifts. Because the melatonin hormone mainly produced during sleep. However several studies found rhythmic adjustments to a new work schedule sets in 4 days to 2 days. The continuous change in day, evening and night shifts diminishes the normally programmed body rhythms.
According to Sparks and Cooper et al (1977) the field of occupational health psychology, overtime fatigue is an important factor in the health conditions and working hours plan. Because of excessive work in shifts raises in backbone injuries, bacterial infections, three times increase in accidents on job after 16 hrs of work these all have related to fatigue and overtime in shift work (Rosa, 1995)
To minimize the health risks of shift work: According to article “how lifestyle changes can reduce shift work stress” published in Sleep disorders guide (2006-08) suggests that workers have to follow some useful measures to tackle the shift work correctly. Workers should not take more than 2 night shifts regularly in one week. So that their body take rest and the workers are not faces fatigueness. Workers take frequent breaks from work when they feel tired and not able to stand in same posture for a long time. Keep entertaining by talking to your fellow colleagues if worker feel difficult to work during long hours in night shifts, but always follow the safety measures. Workers have to follow proper eating habits .Afternoon shift workers take their meal in the middle of day, not in middle of their shift. Workers are advised not take heavy meals when they go for night shifts and they take light meal throughout night shift and take moderate breakfast. A heavy meal compels the workers to sleep and this may lead to accidents and even discomfort in stomach. After completing the night shift workers have to take proper rest with adequate sleep. They have to avoid heavy exercise before going to bed because metabolism of body will still elevated for many hours and this will produce difficulty in sleep. While sleeping they relaxed their mind and keep their brain free from any disturbance. If they fail to sleep then read a book or listen some music. Workers should follow healthy life style according to their shift work and they should exercise 30-40 minutes daily. With doing regular exercise his mental and physical health remains good and this will reduces the health problems. Workers have to take proper diet to maintain their physical health. Workers drink more water in night shift. They have to socialize with other coworkers to minimize disruption in social life. Workers practices to reduce the stress. They have to schedule daily events by the calendar use. Workers choose the prioritize tasks and always tackle one task at a time (Stones, 1987).
Work culture changes rapidly in present days. Previously concept of work done is to fulfil basic human needs but now this is not the fact. The basic needs are not enough, but standard of living is also an essential part for doing work. According to Blekesaune (2008) unemployed people are at major risk of breakdown in personal relationships .Males and females who lost their jobs have similar impact. According to Work life Balance Survey(Hurst and Richards 2003) there were more than 1200 employees who took part in internet survey done in the form of questionnaire and each one ,out of the ten participants worked more than 70 hrs every week, whereas he is being signed for 35-40 hrs. 98% of workers took their office work t home. 17% of them skip their lunch break.97% workers found that it is difficult to balance work and life.70% of workers took work as main stressor (Work life balance survey, 2003).
Work or nonwork conflict generally noticed when work and non work roles are not compatible with one another and participation in one role made difficult in participating in another role (Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985). The Spillover Model (Loscocco and Roschelle, 1991) guided well on present study related to work and non work conflict. In Spillover model, there is a positive relation given between work and non work roles to the limit of satisfaction or not satisfaction in one of the roles moves into other (Bond et al., 1998).Work and non work conflict influences the general health and mental wellbeing of workers and their families. As an example, a recent epidemiological study done in Australia establish that the parents who work regularly for long hours or back home stressed have develop more physical illness and other psychological problems(Earle,2003). According to Duxbury (2003) work and non work conflict impact on the ability of workers to bring up their families which results in lesser levels in family wellbeing and stability. Researchers found that policies which are designed to assist work and non work conflict can change workers behaviour which is good for the organization. Evidences found that the policies which are family friendly results in raises in back to work after the delivery (Squirchuk and Bourke, 1999).
When we are talking about the effect of stressors on a person, few researchers analysed to divide the life of a person into separate functional fields. Like divided between the home and work place. Because in each area individual play more than one role. Like in family they have two roles spouse as well as parents and same in their workplace they follow different roles. Researchers found that in each field person suffers from stressors and strain. So if in a demanding job person becomes stressed at work place then it’s quite possible that he come back home in same state of mind, so this create difficulities in home atmosphere also. There are two major hypotheses proposed to explain the work -home relationship.
The spillover hypotheses proposed that there are no hard boundaries between different life areas. The work and nonwork experiences will positively related to one another. So the persons, who changed, stimulate and satisfy work experiences will likewise same non work experiences. Thus stressful moments experienced in work makes person tired at work as well as when he came back home, this makes difficult to interact with the family and social life. Case studies based on early work approve this approach (Young & Wilmott, 1973, Piotrokowski, 1978).
According to compensatory hypotheses, in between home and work there will be negative relationship. As an example, for boarded and non stimulating work experience, a person compensates this with good experience at home or from other free activities (Wilensky, 1960, Rousseau, 1978). According to the compensatory hypotheses, a person majorly involved in work would be not involved at home or the other way around.
Another immaterial approach is segmentation hypotheses which approve that work and non-work areas are essentially nondependent, separated psychologically and perform separate functions (Blood and Wolfe, 1960, Dubin, 1973). This was the primary formulation of work and home relationship but ‘myth of separate worlds’ of family and work has exposed (Kanter, 1977). This model is now often dishonored. These models just gives idea that up to what extent behaviour in one area lead to same or different behaviour in other, or to which extent satisfaction or stress in one role is associated to similar feeling in other (Staines,1980).
According to National Study of changing work force, 19% of fathers who are working and 38% of working mothers feel stress oftenly and very oftenly in the three month period of this study. The data shows that male and female both suffered by contrasting demands of the family and workplace to balance these two. These conflicts noticed in previous two decades, when labour work becomes more in organizations and females are equally take part in working in organizations. The increased ratio of working women splits their role in two areas.
In studies of Work and family conflict mental health is always targeted. Mental illness is inability to cope with the surrounding environment and reality. These studies proved that mental health depends upon the variation of experiences in work and family (Forne, 2000). In work and family conflicts there is not any selective gender but mental problems for e.g. mood changes are more in females who are working then males (Kohn, Dohrenwend &Mirotznik, 1998). In the midlife, work and family conflict and mental stress are comparatively stable. So if the worker is having mental health problems, this is not good for organization also. Worker not cooperated with co workers and the environment of work is always tensed. This will affect the production of the organization also.
There is another major problem which occurs because of work and family conflict that is drinking. When a worker not balance his both roles and because of stress start drinking alcohol and become habitual then this make the situation worse. Because he could not take care of his family properly and even not concentrate on his work. Because of this he cut off from his family as well as from society and even from his co workers. He or she might become a victim of accident at work. Because of drinking problem he lost money and this also affects his financial condition. Marriage life of worker is also affected that’s why now a day’s divorce rates are high, because of imbalance in family and work. When work and life conflict occurs care of children and elderly people becomes difficult. Sometimes person even thought about the suicidal attempt because of this worse situation.
Bullying at work is behaviour of annoying, offending or affecting negatively to a person in his work tasks (Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf & Cooper 2003).According to HSE bullying at work is to ignore someone, circulating rumours, annoying somebody in front of others, giving somebody a task which is not achievable, constantly underestimating somebody’s work .It is not a new behaviour but it was not much noticed till the end of twentieth century. Bullying was brought into the public arena by Andrea Adams, a journalist of UK, who wrote a book o bullying, in the year 1992.He also produced radio documentaries in which discussion was there on workplace bullying. In UK and Ireland bullying word is used whereas in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia it is called as mobbing and in US as emotional abuse. According to the study, Destructive conflict and bullying at work (Hoel &Cooper, 2000) one in every ten people bullied on work within last 6months and the number increases to one in four in last five years. According to this study women are bullied more as compare to men. Managers or persons on senior post were culprit in 74.7% cases of bullying. The obvious experienced negative behaviour at work was somebody was not giving proper information, which gives negative impact to your performance or impossible targets or deadlines. Bullying was mostly associated with bad mental health and less satisfaction in organization (Hoel &Cooper, 2000).
Bullying at work due to direct comments on employees causes harasses, humiliation and put negative impact on performance in work and this creates uncomfortable working atmosphere (Einarsen& Rakness, 1997).It is found that usually bullying behaviour has two categories: personal and work related. Personal is an again and again offensive comment regarding you and your personal life. Work related is direct comments on your work task, not giving reasonable deadlines to complete tasks, non manageable load of work. According to Zapf (1999) there were five types of bullying behavior: A. Make the task more difficult. B. Stop communicating with somebody. C.Attack on anyone’s personal life. D. Humiliate and criticize in front of others. E. Circulate rum ours. Now a day’s physical bullying or sex abuse related bullying also found with women employees in workplaces.
Bullying at work put direct impact on person’s psychological wellbeing. Psychological impacts are mental stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, less concentration in the given task or work, binge eating, addiction to alcohol or smoking, lack of alertness at work ,due to this sometimes accidents occurs. Psychologists noticed behavioural changes in workers, who face regular bullying at work. Worker becomes irritated, emotional, and aggressive. Some women who faced sexual bullying, later on gone into reverse personality. They become aggressive even on situations which are ignorable. They hate opposite sex either he is in his own blood relation. If a person continuously suffers from bullying he may develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (Bjorkqvist et al, 1994, Leyman and Gustafsson ,1996).
The person who faces regular bullying for long time also found physically ill. Because of this his blood pressure becomes high so he is suffering from hypertension and it is one of the indicators for cardiac diseases. Their immunity which helps him to fight with diseases or infections gone done. So he got infections more easily. Because of anxiety his digestive system also disturbs, so problems like diarrhea/constipation, stomachache, acidity occurs. Studies shows that continuous mental stress could also be one of the reasons of skin diseases like irritation, psoriasis etc. sometimes mental stress is the main reason of migraine. Sometimes lot of frustration could change persons mind towards suicidal attempt.
Bullying at work place also put impact on organizations by lowering the productivity of goods. Because workers are not work properly in organizations. Due to continuous bullying some workers often took leaves from work, which also put bad impact on work. Quality of production also gone down due to the bullying, because of this profit of organization also reduces. Studies show that work efficiency of workers also lowers because of bullying at work. At times this bullying at work place led the concern organizations to the court which is also harmful for the reputation of organization.
According to Richard Lazarus (1984) the definition of stress is that “Stress is a feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize” (Lazarus,1984).
According to Dr. Mellisa Conrad Stoppler’s book, ‘Stress, Hormones and Weight gain’ “Stress is simply a fact of nature-forces from the outside world affecting the individual”. The person responds to stress accordingly as it affect the person and his environment. Stress occurs because of external and internal factors. External factors are the environment, our home, personal relations, all outer situations, challenges, difficulties and expectations of life. Internal factors which affect your power to deal stress are nutritional status of a person, level of health and fitness, emotional status and how much rest and sleep a person got (Stoppler, 2007).
For managing the level of stress, organizations tried and do efforts for mental and physical health of the workers (Cooper& Cartwright, 1997). The stress prevention done at primary, secondary and tertiary levels (Murphy, 1988).
Today’s world is the world of globalization. In this world there is lot of competition, because of that stress becomes the biggest problem in employees in the organizations. Organizations are also affected due to stress level in employees. So organizations have low productivity and pay major cost for health care. For preventing the stress in organizations, primary interventions are there to reduce the level of stress. The major concentrate of primary intervention management is to search the causes of stress and to remove the causes. Primary intervention is also known as ‘Stress prevention’ intervention.
The main features of primary intervention stress management are, improving communication, re-scheduling or designing the structure of the tasks, give decision making chances to workers, lowers the work load, build cohesive teams, establish genuine policies of employment, sharing the rewards and contrast resolution skills. The primary intervention tries to modify or remove the causes of stress in the organizations so that workers work in good working atmosphere (Cooper et al., 2001).
According to Wall, T.D. & Clegg, C.W. (1981) study of work design done at confectionary company who faced troubles of demoralization in workers, gap in relations between workers and turnover problems. Organizations given the power of decision making, break for rest and after twenty eight months, they observe there was not any change in skill or not any progress in the task given to them.
Secondary intervention is mainly related with the immediate detection and management of experienced stress by raising awareness and modifies skills of stress management of the worker with training programs (Cooper and Cartwright, 1997).In the secondary intervention workers have to manage their stress, not changing or removing the stressors. The Programmes of stress management assist and channelize the workers to know the symptoms of stress in them and other coworkers and try to get out of it. In the secondary intervention development of coping skills, management of anger, counseling and cognitive behaviour therapies are used. In the secondary intervention some class sessions or training programs are also there for increasing awareness and controlling the stressful conditions like training to do muscle relaxing exercises, educational seminars etc.
Training to the workers to do their work could lower stress and improve their efficiency or creativity (Bunce and West, 1996). Cognitive behaviour therapy improves the mental wellbeing to well tolerate the harsh experiences without changing and controlling them (Bond and Bunce, 2000).
Tertiary intervention assists the workers to give treatment, compensate and rehabilitate them who are suffering from illness due to stress. This intervention usually assist workers to come out from stress occurs due to their work. The main aim of these programmes is to treat the worker who is beneficial for the organizations. This intervention includes medical intervention, treatment and ongoing counseling also. So that worker returns to their work normally. These services are provided in house counselors or foreign agencies in the form of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPS). Employee Assistance Programs give twenty four hrs telephone services. Workers are easily access these services (Cooper and Cartwright, 1997).
Meditation help to reduce stress, sleeplessness, anxiety and tensions (Alexander et al.,1993).For lowering their stress level, workers concentrate more on deep breathing and muscle relaxing exercises(Mcguigen,1994).
According to Kempier and Cooper (1999) now a days for stress management the secondary and tertiary interventions are more used as compare to primary ones. It was seen that these three interventions are effective in reverse order. In case of stress at the working place the primary intervention targets on the cause of stress in work place, secondary saw the effect of stress on worker and tertiary helps workers to rehabilitation and provide treatment in case of medical sickness due to stress. Secondary and tertiary level interventions play important role in preventing stress but they are not completely successful in stress management unless the cause of stress is not removed. Another limitation of secondary and tertiary interventions is that they don’t address the area to control the stressor which is important. Secondary and primary interventions are not sufficient to maintain the health of workers without removing the cause as in primary intervention (Cooper and Cartwright, 1997).
The secondary and tertiary interventions are useful in stress prevention but without the removal of cause they are not much beneficial. These interventions have favourable affect on indivual level and organizational level.
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