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Overnight Workers: Who Are They and Is It Worth It?


OKLAHOMA CITY — 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 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.”
Bernie Inbody said one in seven applicants interviewed at his Express franchise location in Omaha, Nebraska, request overnight work for the same reasons.
“This shift typically works for their family dynamic, allowing them to take care of personal obligations during the day and work at a time more convenient for them,” he added.

Image courtesy of Express Employment Professionals

Infographic illustrating Express' survey findings. 

According to a survey of businesses conducted by Express, 20 percent have a second shift (3pm-11pm) and 13 percent have a third shift (11pm-7am). Two-thirds only have a first shift (8am to 5pm). The survey lines up with a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, which found that about 12 percent of all workers are “on the job” at 9pm, and just 3 percent at 2am.[1]
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.
“I feel that parents on third shift are superheroes. They are working third shift to support their families financially, and they also give 100 percent to their families.”
Working 9-to-5 may be considered the classic American job, but for many people, working 9-to-5 just doesn’t work, according to Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
“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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