All businesses and employees are different, and 9-to-5 doesn’t work for everyone. If your business provides round-the-clock service or you have clients in several time zones, you probably need to hire employees for non-traditional shifts.
As an employee, you might not have considered working alternative hours. However, for some people, the second shift turns out to be a perfect lifestyle fit.
Keep reading to learn more about second shift, non-traditional hours, and the benefits they offer.
What Is Shift Work?
Shift work describes any type of work schedule where an employee works outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks shift work down into three main categories: evening, night, and morning. The term can also refer to rotating schedules.
While many people think of the 9-to-5 as a typical work schedule, many occupations involve shift work outside of normal office hours.
Businesses that regularly use shift work include restaurants, salons, and gyms. Shift work is also common in the retail, health care, protective services, broadcast, and sales industries.
When is Second Shift?
Second shift typically refers to the evening or afternoon shift where employees clock in between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and clock out between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Common examples of second shift jobs include servers, bartenders, retail associates, personal trainers, and salon workers. Individuals working in broadcast, media, or sports may also work second shift hours.
Benefits of Working Second Shift Hours
Now that you understand what qualifies as second shift, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of working in the afternoon or evening.
Many employers use wage increases to incentivize people to work non-traditional shifts. More specifically, a company will add a shift differential for employees who work evening, night, or early morning shifts.
Shift differential refers to the additional payment you receive for working outside the day shift hours. When companies offer a shift differential, it’s generally calculated as an additional percentage on top of your base pay, usually between 5 to 15 percent above the normal salary.
Ability to Work Two Jobs
Besides higher wages, second shift work provides several work-life balance benefits. If you want to work a second job, then second shift leaves you free to work for another employer during office hours or the early morning shift.
Work-Life Balance Benefits
One of the biggest benefits of the second shift is the added flexibility it gives to your schedule. If you’re a parent, working the second shift offers several childcare benefits. If you’re home during the daytime hours, you may not need to spend money on daycare or babysitters. You also have more time to run errands during the day.
Or, if you’re a student, then working the second shift lets you find work (either full-time or part-time) while continuing your education.
Avoid Rush Hour Traffic
For those of you who can’t stand sitting in traffic or waiting for public transportation during rush hour, the second shift might be a perfect fit. Starting work in the afternoon and finishing later at night means you can avoid commuting at the same time as day shift workers.
And finally, the second shift lets you sleep in. Scientists have found that there are six basic chronotypes, which is a technical way of saying that not everybody is a morning person. Some people are just more active, attentive, and alert in the afternoon and evening.
Instead of fighting your body’s natural clock, it might be worth exploring a shift time that works better for night owls.
Potential Drawbacks of Working Second Shift Hours
While there are several benefits to working the second shift, it’s not the right choice for everyone. Here are two drawbacks to consider before committing to second shift work.
Sleep Schedule Disruption
If you happen to be a morning person, working the second shift could disrupt your natural sleep rhythm. Individuals who work non-traditional shifts for long periods of time may develop a condition known as Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD).
Most people with SWSD report problems falling asleep or staying awake during the day. Some individuals report other symptoms like trouble concentrating, headaches, and irritability.
But working the second shift doesn’t mean you’ll get SWSD. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that 10 to 40 percent of shift workers develop the disorder, and that includes people who work night and early morning shifts.
Potential Social and Health Implications
The effects of working second shift hours can spill over to your personal life and physical health. In particular, feelings of isolation may arise when you have to work during the hours that most people are free to socialize.
Working second shift hours can also result in poor diet and exercise choices if you don’t plan accordingly. On average, shift workers have a higher risk of being overweight, which can increase their chances of developing health complications.
What Employers Should Know About Second Shift
If your business needs more than 9-to-5 support, you should consider offering different shift options to your employees.
If you decide that shift work is right for your business, here are a few tips to keep your workplace safe and help prevent employee burnout:
- Employ safety measures to help keep night shift workers alert, such as bright lighting, cool temperatures, and low noise levels.
- Keep your shift workers engaged and involved in company meetings and announcements.
- Give shift workers access to nutritious foods.
- Provide training to help your employees and their families adjust to shift work.
- Encourage shift workers to take public transportation and avoid driving while drowsy.
- Consider rotating shifts to give shift workers enough time to rest and engage in their personal lives (example: six days of second shift + four days off).
- Create an open environment where your employees can discuss mental health in the workplace with management.
- Provide sufficient training to new second shift employees, as they are often part of smaller teams and can’t always ask peers for help in the moment.
- Create an incentive program to encourage day shift employees to help on second shift so you have more people to cover if someone has to take off sick.
- Keep second shift schedules consistent so employees can plan their personal lives without worrying about constant shift changes.
No matter what type of shift schedules you offer, it’s important to keep your employees’ health and safety a top priority. Using proactive safety measures helps you reduce workplace accidents while maintaining employee morale and satisfaction.
Other Types of Shifts
Now that you know all about second shift, here's a quick list of the other types of shifts you may want to consider for your business:
Third shift is also known as the night shift or the graveyard shift, and it can go from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. Occupations such as doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, security guards, and pilots offer opportunities to work the third shift.
Split shift employees have schedules that require them to work during two different blocks of time. In general, a split shift employee works two four-hour shifts instead of one eight-hour block of time.
For example, someone who works 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. has a split shift, which is also known as a swing shift.
Weekend shifts refer to any shift that takes place on Saturday or Sunday as opposed to weekdays.
If an employee has different shifts during the week, then they work a rotating shift. For example, an employee may work the day shift on Monday and Tuesday and then work the second shift Wednesday through Friday.
Fixed shift refers to a schedule where an employee works the same shift every day. So, if someone works the second shift every day, they’re said to have a fixed schedule.