What Is 1st, 2nd & 3rd Shift?

working shift for your business

Shift work is very common in businesses that open around the clock. Depending on each business’s needs and opening hours, there are many different types of shifts you can schedule for your staff.

The first step to choosing a type of shift is knowing about different shift hours. It helps you:

  • Choose the right shift for your business
  • Create clearer job descriptions and find staff with matching preferences and lifestyles
  • Support workers’ well-being and work-life balance better
  • Better the workplace condition to improve efficiency and avoid shift work problems

In this post, we’ll talk about what the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift is, as well as their pros and cons.

What is 1st shift?

The first shift, also known as the day shift, starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon, similar to traditional business hours. The hours may vary slightly, for instance, from 8 am to 5 pm, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, or 9 am to 6 pm.

Many people prefer the first shift because they have more time for their family and friends. Staff who don’t have their own vehicles also have more commuting options during the daytime. However, first shifts always go with annoying traffic jams.

What is 2nd shift?

The second shift, also known as the swing shift, starts in the afternoon and ends around midnight. Hours may vary slightly, from 4pm to 12am, or 5pm to 1am, depending on each company.

Most workers who take this shift are college students, people who have a day job and want a second job to earn extra money, or people who have personal commitments during the day.

Staff who work this shift often earn more tips, so fairness should also be taken into account. In other words, you may need to rotate shifts so that staff have equal opportunities to earn tips.

The second shift allows staff to avoid traffic, schedule appointments during traditional business hours, and save money on daytime childcare. But they’re more likely to lose their work-life balance due to the lack of connection with their friends and family.

What is 3rd shift?

The third shift, also called the “graveyard shift”, starts around midnight and ends in the morning. Hours may differ slightly, from 10 pm to 6 am, or 12 am to 8 am. 

Because not many workers are fond of working at these hours, night shifts are paid the highest. Those who want to earn more and “night owls” are more likely to choose the third shift.

Third shifts can take a toll on workers’ health and personal life. Workers sleep when people are awake, and vice versa, so their social lives are affected. People who work third shifts are more prone to accidents, errors, and health problems because of sleep deprivation and fatigue.

So make sure you apply the best practices when managing night shifts. To avoid unwanted situations, you should also invest in a better working environment and encourage napping breaks.

Which types of shifts work for my business?

Each type of shift has its pros and cons. Understanding the nature of each shift can help you adopt suitable practices and support your staff, hence improving your business performance.

While you don’t have to pay more for first shifts, your business may have to open outside of the traditional 9-5 hours. And if you want to open 24/7, you need to consider second and third shifts. But you have to invest more in equipment and practices that protect your workers and your business operations.

Whatever type of shift you decide for your business, make sure to list it clearly on your job openings so that candidates can decide if the position suits their preferences and lifestyles.

If you’ve already decided on the suitable shifts for your business, start to set up an effective scheduling process. You’ll save yourself from lots of trouble later.

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