Swing Shift Hours
What Are Swing Shift Hours?
If you apply for a job that mentions swing shift hours, you will almost certainly be working outside of regular business hours.
Instead of working 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., five days a week, you could be working on a 4:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift one day and something different the next.
Swing shift hours are common in organizations that need employees to work throughout the day and night.
An employer could offer you a choice of the different shifts; however, your schedule is dictated by the organization's operational needs.
These shifts are designed to streamline the operations of an organization so the work can continue 24/7.
Your employer could implement swing shift hours to increase productivity or meet their customers' needs, depending on the industry you work in. For example, social work.
This article will discuss the industries with swing shift hours to help you understand your role, the advantages and disadvantages of working on a swing shift schedule, and how to excel in these positions.
What Industries Commonly Have Swing Shift Hours?
The industries where swing shift hours are common are:
Medical emergencies can occur at any time. Therefore, paramedics, doctors, and nurses are needed to work both day and night shifts.
Administrative and cleaning staff may also be needed outside of typical business hours to help keep the medical facilities running efficiently.
Public Health and Safety
Similar to healthcare, incidents can happen at any time.
Police, firefighters and correctional workers are needed 24/7 to help maintain order and offer help and support where needed.
Bus and taxi drivers, flight attendants, airport staff and truck drivers all work swing shift hours.
The roads are often quieter for truck drivers at night, allowing them to reach their destination quicker.
Flights depart throughout the day, so flight crew and airport staff are needed to check passengers in and get them to their destination safely.
Even when the stores are closed, people work behind the scenes preparing for the next trading day.
Shelf stockers and warehouse attendants work during the night to ensure the store floor is fully stocked and clean before opening.
In the build-up to some holidays, stores receive festive makeovers. Depending on the scale of the makeover, visual merchandisers will work after closing or before opening to redecorate.
Additionally, some stores and supermarkets are open 24/7.
Hotels, restaurants and casinos need staff at all hours to help complete transactions, maintain the premises, and deliver service standards.
For organizations with a global presence and 24/7 customer support, customer service representatives are needed to work around the clock to solve any queries and complaints.
How Do Swing Shift Hours Work?
Every organization will vary in how they set their swing shift schedules. However, most typically use the following:
Eight-hour fixed or rotating shifts that run through the morning, evening or overnight
Four consecutive 10-hour shifts followed by three days off
12-hour shifts with days off after each shift
The organization may also decide to use the following types of swing shifts:
Afternoon shifts – Usually from 3:00 p.m. until midnight
First shift – Follows more traditional business hours such as 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Second shift – Similar to the afternoon shift, starting at 3:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m.
Third shift – Begins when the second shift ends, typically 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.
Fixed shift – Employee works the same schedule on one type of shift
Split shift – Employee works two shifts in one day that is broken up, for example, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., then 6:00 p.m. to midnight
Employees typically receive their schedules in advance to plan their days and rest to prepare for their swing shift.
Additionally, some employers could keep employees on the same schedule, known as a ‘fixed schedule’.
Others may change the schedules every week or month. This is called a ‘rotating schedule’ where each employee works a morning, evening and night shift in a continuous rotation.
It is the most common method and is believed to increase productivity as always working a night shift is not sustainable over the long term.
Example of a Bartender's Workweek
Bars do not usually open until later in the day; therefore, many bartenders will work from the afternoon onwards.
Those that work in the mornings often take deliveries and replenish the stock behind the bar.
A full-time bartender schedule might look like:
Monday: Day off
Tuesday: Day off
Wednesday: 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday: 4:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Friday: 6:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Saturday: 6:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Part-time bartenders may only work the busiest swing shifts, such as:
Thursday – Saturday: 7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Example of a Nurse's Workweek
Most commonly, medical professionals work 12-hour shifts, so an example of a nurse's schedule may look something like this:
Monday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday: Day off
Wednesday: Day off
Thursday: 12:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Friday: Day off
Saturday: 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: Day off
Example of a Flight Attendant's Workweek
A flight attendant's schedule can vary week to week depending on the airline and the length of the journey.
Here is how a typical week might look:
Monday: 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Tuesday: Day off
Wednesday: Day off
Thursday: 3:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Friday: Day off
Saturday: Day off
Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
What Are the Advantages of Working Swing Shift Hours?
May Have More Time in the Morning
If your shift starts later in the day, you could have time in the morning to:
- Go to the gym
- Take your children to school
- Run errands
- Attend medical appointments
Those who work full-time regular hours sometimes struggle to make use of their morning because they have to be in the office early.
By the evening, they are too tired to do anything other than going home and eat.
There Are Sometimes Financial Advantages
Depending on your job, you may receive more pay for working unsociable hours.
This does not apply to every position – medical professionals and flight crew are expected to work odd hours; for some roles, there are financial incentives.
Working Conditions May Be Better
Working when the stores are closed and when most of the workforce has gone home means that your shift will be much quieter.
There is less management around, and your commute will also be easier because there will not be any rush-hour traffic.
Equal Working Opportunities
Working a rotating swing shift gives every employee the chance to work a busy and quiet shift.
While you may prefer one shift over another, having a mixture is proven to keep you engaged and motivated.
For example, if you always worked a busy shift, you may start to feel overworked.
Occasionally taking the quiet shift allows you to focus on other job-related tasks and have a bit of a break.
Alternatively, always working the quiet shift may cause you to feel like you are missing out.
What Are the Disadvantages of Working Swing Shift Hours?
Can Come With Health Implications
Working throughout the night impacts your health as you are not sleeping when you are biologically supposed to
Sleeping throughout the day leads to a lack of sunlight and vitamin D, which adds to feeling fatigued
Working with little to no colleagues can be lonely
Difficult To Make a Routine
Those who work on a rotating schedule do not have a set routine.
This makes it challenging to have a regular sleep cycle, exercise daily and catch up with friends and family.
Working different shifts your eating habits and makes you feel more exhausted than if you were on a regular shift.
Do Swing Shifts Pay More?
Every employer must abide by the state and country labor laws to ensure you are working in a safe work environment and are compensated.
Whether you get paid more for working swing shifts is primarily up to the employer.
A majority of people prefer to work a regular shift because it fits the typical lifestyle.
For several industries, there must be an incentive to persuade employees to work the swing or night shifts.
If the role you apply for states you will be working the swing shift hours, your hourly pay might be $14 compared to a day shift employee, who might receive $12.50.
It also depends on your employment contract.
If you are contracted a full-time position of 40-hours per week, your employer is not legally required to pay you extra for swing shifts unless it is overtime. Therefore, you would be paid your salary, plus your hourly pay for the extra shifts.
Is Swing Shift Hour Work Right for Me?
Depending on your profession, swing shift work may be the norm, and you will have no choice but to work your assigned shifts.
Before applying for any swing shift roles, consider:
That working overnight and without a routine can affect your health
You may not receive any additional financial compensation for working odd hours
It is more difficult to swap shifts with someone because everyone is on their own rotation
You may miss family and friend events because you have to work
Starting Your Swing Shift Role
For those about to start or are already in a swing shift role, there are some things you can do to manage your time and health:
Switch to a 24-hour clock – This allows you to keep track of early morning and afternoon shifts and avoid coming to work at the wrong time. Aviation professionals always utilize 24-hour clocks or military time because they operate across numerous time zones.
Try segmented sleep or naps – It can be difficult to get eight hours of rest when doing swing shifts. Aim to get four hours of sleep before the start of the first shift, if you are working a split shift, have a little nap before the second, then aim for four more hours after your second shift. It is not an ideal sleep pattern; however, it ensures you get eight hours in 24 hours.
Be as healthy as you can – Regular exercise and eating healthy helps you overcome the side effects of working odd hours. Missing nights of sleep affects your immune system; therefore, ensure you maintain your health.
Watch the caffeine intake – If you drink a caffeinated drink too late, it can affect your sleep quality. Keep coffee to a minimum and drink plenty of water instead. It is proven that being fully hydrated increases productivity by 14%.
Make a playlist or listen to something uplifting – If you work alone, create a playlist with all your favorite songs to keep you awake and happy. Alternatively, you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks, depending on your preference.
Create as much of a routine as you can – Once you receive your schedule, plan out your days and include rest days, social events, workouts and errands. It may change week on week; however, having a plan creates a sense of routine. It also ensures that you have made time for yourself and your friends and family.
Enjoy your time off – Depending on your schedule, you may be exhausted on your days off but try to do something with your time. Have lunch with a friend, or enjoy a walk in the park.
Spending all your time in your home will make it seem like you do not have a good work-life balance.
Some people struggle with swing shift hours as they need a regular routine. Others are more adaptable and enjoy having their own schedules outside of society's norm.
However, you may not have a choice when it comes to deciding your working hours.
These routines are successful because they are planned ahead of time and adhered to. Make time for the things and people you care about by getting adequate sleep, exercising and socializing.