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Employee health and well- being implications of the fly-


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Clarke, Heather, and Kara Arnold. (2014). “Employee Health and Well-Being

Implications of the Fly-in Fly-out Employment Model.” Administrative Sciences

Association of Canada Conference. Muskoka, ON. May 9-13, 2014.


Employee health and well- being implications of the fly-

in/fly-out employment model

Heather M. Clarke

Memorial University Kara A. Arnold

Memorial University


• In remote areas, the Fly-in/Fly-out (FIFO)

employment model is now standard for resource development (Storey, 2010, p. 1161)

• Defined as: operations “which involve work in relatively remote locations where food and

lodging accommodation is provided for workers at the work site” (Storey, 2001, p.135)

• Use continues to rise in extractive industries (Ritter, 2001; Shrimpton & Storey, 1996)




• Research on FIFO and sustainably has largely investigated the impact of FIFO operations on community sustainability (e.g. Storey, 2001;


• We argue that employee health and well-being should be considered more explicitly when

assessing sustainability

• Conceptual model describes why FIFO could be

associated with decreased employee well-being

and factors that might moderate this relationship


Conceptual Model



Work,related)social)support) )




Extended)<me)away) from)home) Increased)<me)spent))

with)co,workers) )

Male,dominated)work) environment)

) ShiC)roster)



Work,family)conflict) )

Aggression) Sexual)harassment))

) Fa<gue)

Physical)Health)) and)) Psychological))




Work-Family Conflict

• Work-family conflict:

v“a form of inter-role conflict in which the role

pressures from the work and family domains are mutually incompatible in some respect” (Greenhaus

& Beutell, 1985, p. 77)

• One study found shift roster was associated with work-family conflict such that conflict

increased with longer shift rosters (consecutive days working) (Funston, 2012)

• Boundary management preferences may be an

important consideration for FIFO employees



• Workplace aggression:

v“behavior by an individual or individuals within or outside an organization that is intended to physically or psychologically harm a worker or workers and occurs within a work-related

context” (Schat & Kelloway, 2005, p. 191)

• Alcohol consumption

• Time spent together

• Traditionally male environment


Sexual Harassment

• Sexual harassment:

v“unwanted sex-related behaviour at work that is appraised by the recipient as offensive,

exceeding her resources, or threatening her

well-being” (Fitzgerald, Swan, & Magley, 1997, p. 20).

• Traditionally male environment



• Fatigue:

v“a syndrome of effects resulting in impaired physical or mental performance” (Grandjean, 1979; Muller et al., 2008, p. 63), such as tiredness

• In Canada common for FIFO workers to work a roster of 4 to 14 consecutive 12-hour shifts

(Costa et al., 2006)

All four of these stressors have been found to be

associated with decreased employee well-being


Conceptual Model



Work,related)social)support) )




Extended)<me)away) from)home) Increased)<me)spent))

with)co,workers) )

Male,dominated)work) environment)

) ShiC)roster)



Work,family)conflict) )

Aggression) Sexual)harassment))

) Fa<gue)

Physical)Health)) and)) Psychological))




Work related social support

• Seeking social support is a common coping response to job stressors (Cortina & Wasti, 2005; Folkman et al., 1986)

vPhysical isolation from their social support system at home

vWork sources of social support (organizational, supervisor, and co-worker) may be even more important than for standard workers

vResearch has shown that FIFO workers rely on


Reasons for working in FIFO

• Reasons for working affect experience of work

(e.g., Dupré, Inness, Connelly, Barling, & Hoption, 2006)

vNegative experiences at work are more detrimental for those compelled to stay in a job for financial reasons or lack of job mobility (e.g. Dupré et al., 2006; Inness,

Barling, & Turner, 2005; Tepper, 2000)

vExpect many FIFO employees may feel unable to leave

due to financial reasons and lack of mobility


• A sustainable organization “contributes to sustainable development by delivering

simultaneously economic, social, and

environmental benefits – the so-called triple bottom line” (Hart & Milstein, 2003, p. 56)

• Employees are primary stakeholders and their health and well-being is an element of social sustainability

• Future research testing the propositions in the model and investigating the effect of FIFO on

Future Research


Thank you!



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