If you call a customer service center shortly before midnight, chances are you'll speak with a representative working the second shift. Second-shift workers clock in at around 2 p.m. and wrap up their work day just before 12 a.m. While an evening work schedule is ideal for workers who need to keep their mornings free, working the second shift can have long-term implications brought on by disruptions to the body's normal sleep patterns and socialization needs.
Who Works the Second Shift
A majority of second-shift workers are teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24, according to a 2004 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in this age group hold part-time jobs in the mid-afternoon and evening to accommodate high school and college classes in the mornings. Among adults, most second-shift workers are between the ages of 25 and 34. While many workers in this age group also choose an evening shift to attend morning classes, a majority of them hold second-shift jobs to take care of children or family members in the mornings. For the most part, workers who aren't assigned to an evening shift by their bosses say they prefer the flex time it affords, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Jobs & Industries
Second-shifts aren't limited to part-time, mid-afternoon jobs at a restaurant, coffee shop, or clothing store. They include full-time jobs in several industries, including public safety, hospitality, business, health, and manufacturing. Hotel employees on the second shift, for example, typically welcome new guests checking in at around 3 p.m. Emergency dispatchers working the second shift will immediately notify police officers, paramedics, and firefighters to a fire or car crash if they receive a call for help at 8 p.m. Air traffic controllers working a second shift ensure that the runways are safe for planes arriving and departing the airport into the night.
Those who work the second shift are typically rewarded with extra pay. This pay incentive, known as a shift differential, is usually tacked on to the employee's regular wage amount. In December 2012, workers on the evening and night shifts received an average of 82 additional cents per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. That amount may not seem like much, but it has made the second shift one of the most popular shifts to work, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reported.
Implications of Second-Shift Work
Because second-shift work schedules end late at night, this work schedule tends to interfere with the body's circadian clock and sleep patterns, increasing stress and fatigue. It also increases a worker's risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, according to studies by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to physiological threats, a second shift work schedule can also disrupt a worker's personal life, limiting his social interactions with friends and family. Studies have found that, over time, workers on the second shift become less motivated about their jobs and life in general.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Monthly Labor Review: A Time to Work: Recent Trends in Shift Work and Flexible Schedules
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, December 2012
- The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home; Arlie Hochschild & Anne Machung
- Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images