Do your employees, coworkers, and friends think they eat healthy? A lot of people do — and they’re often sorely mistaken. A representative poll of 3000 US adults conducted by NPR and Truven Analytics found 75% rank nutrition habits as good, very good, or excellent. Very perplexing results, considering that study after study shows Americans aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables while getting far too much sugar and not nearly enough fiber — among other poor nutrition habits. Worse yet, many suffer from food-related chronic conditions. What gives?
Since the dawn of time there have been shiftworkers. Someone needed to keep the cave fires burning and watch out for marauding tribes. Because of advances in technology, industrialization, and communication around the globe, increasing numbers work nontraditional shifts.
According to 2004 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million employees worked evenings, nights, rotations, or other irregular schedules. 2010 US National Health Interview data estimated about 19% of employees worked at least 48 hours/week and at least 7% worked 60 hours.
Carolyn Schur — sleep educator, author, and speaker specializing in shiftwork and insomnia — says working nights and nontraditional shift rotations is not without consequences. "We are day-functioning animals. Everything in our physiology serves to keep us awake during the daytime. Working through the night forces us to fight these natural circadian rhythms. Research shows on average shiftworkers get about 2 hours less sleep/sleep period than the general population, although this can certainly happen with a 9-5 worker who does not get adequate sleep for some reason."
If you weren’t restricted by time or money, there’s almost no end to the number of individuals you could help in enhancing their health. Time and money are both limited… but maybe not as much as you think.
Go get it. Sure, your budget has been pared and you have fewer staff than you did 3 years ago. But check your annual report. Is the organization making money? If so, there’s a good chance you can get some of it to reinvest in employee well-being. You may not be able to add it directly to your budget, but by partnering with other departments, community organizations, your health plan, local foundations, nonprofit groups, and individual work units, you can do a lot with a little.