Overnight Workers: Who Are They and Do They Prefer It?

33% of Businesses Have Nighttime Shifts; Experts Report Why People Seek Out Overnight Work

While the world is sleeping, some businesses continue to run, powered by workers who often choose the overnight shift, as many say it allows them the flexibility to take care of their children or further their education.

“The third shift is popular with the workforce because it allows people to go to school during the day or evening and still work full-time,” said Janis Petrini, an Express Employment Professionals franchise owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “It allows moms or dads to work all night and then still be a full-time parent during the day. They can take their kids to school and pick them up, as well as be involved in their children’s sports and other extra-curricular activities.”

Jessica Culo, Express Franchisee in Edmonton, Alberta, said applicants at her office request overnight work for the same reasons.

“Overnight shifts seem to fit well for some families who might have other obligations during the day. Maybe they have kids at home, elder care to consider or health care appointments they need time for. For some people, working at night is a lot more convenient for their lifestyle,” she said. “We also see families where the mom works days while dad works nights, which helps to avoid childcare costs.”

According to a survey of businesses conducted by Express, 20% have a second shift (3 – 11 p.m.) and 13% have a third shift (11 p.m. – 7 a.m.). Two-thirds only have a first shift (8 a.m. –  5 p.m.). The survey lines up with a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, which found that about 12% of all workers are “on the job” at 9 p.m., and just 3% at 2 a.m.

The Express survey also revealed the most common jobs offering a second shift or third shift include general labor, production, and cleaning crews. Other jobs include office personnel, front desk staff, truck drivers, nurses, and call center staff.

“The third shift is popular for manufacturing companies and any organization that is open 24/7,” Petrini noted. “Many manufacturers run three shifts, and the third shift allows the company to keep the machines and production running 24 hours a day.”

With ever-increasing consumer demands, Express franchise owner Terri Greeno in Crystal Lake, Illinois, is seeing more and more companies requiring round-the-clock coverage at their facilities, making the pool of applicants willing to accept non-traditional shifts more valuable.

“If there were more people looking for work during these hours, we would have no trouble placing them in our community,” she said. “More workers are expecting, and receiving, significant shift premiums as compensation for working off-shifts.”

So, while there is ample opportunity for job seekers in the overnight workforce, the hours require some getting used to.

“The ‘common characteristic’ among these overnight workers is that they have no problem working all night without sleep, and they are also able to accomplish their other commitments during the day,” Petrini said. “Third shifters are a special breed. They are able to set their body clocks in a way that they require very little rest, and they can stay up all night.

Working 9-to-5 may be considered the standard work day, but for many people, it just doesn’t work, according to Bob Funk, CEO of Express.

“Whatever the reason that leads people to seek out late hours, they may be pleasantly surprised to find they can earn more at night than when the sun is out,” he said.

The survey of 462 businesses, which are current and former clients of Express Employment Professionals, was conducted in December 2017.

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