How to entice second and third shift employees (hint, it's not money)

By Anna Haney

Employee retention is an important endeavor for any manufacturer – heck, any employer really – and lowering the turnover rate is a significant step in the right direction. When it comes to second or third shift employees, it’s often even harder to incentivize them to stay. Working non-normal hours can be difficult for employees with families or any extenuating circumstance.

It’s important to keep in mind that the core of employee retention revolves around making sure your employees are happy and feel fulfilled in their job. While some people enjoy and even prefer working at night, the majority of employees do not.

Why do employees work second and third shift? Well, we know it’s not money. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review of over 15,000 employees, the correlation between employee satisfaction and pay is extremely low. More often, employee satisfaction is based on enjoyment, learning or personal growth and therefore, it’s important to offer your night shift workers other types of incentives.


Build a sense of community

Make sure that your second and third shift employees don’t feel second rate. By employing the same standards, offerings, and perks that day shift employees have, night shifters can feel like they are a full-vested part of the team. Give your employees a sense of commonality and community between all shifts – after all, you’re all one big family.

Provide transparency of company milestones

Working together to accomplish a common goal is often a motivator for large groups of people, and employment is no different. Being transparent with your second and third shift (and all shifts for that matter) as to the goals or milestones you wish to achieve each shift, week, quarter, etc. can help drive work ethic – especially if it’s absolutely clear what each employee is doing to contribute to the overall success.

Consider putting up digital displays around the floor, break room, or entrance and exits to locker rooms with information on the goal, and what each shift has contributed to that shift.

Understand work-life balance

A hot topic of today, work-life balance is increasingly important with the penetration of millennials into the workforce, and employers need to be aware of this. Offering flexibility to employees in the form of flexible scheduling, breaks, and shift-swapping can help; however, offering compassion when unexpected things come up can often be one of the best ways to show that you understand work-life balance. (Now, we’re not saying you have to be this guy, but a little compassion goes a long way.)

Offer on-site services

As an added bonus, if you can provide on-site childcare or an athletic center, employees can utilize these benefits and feel a better sense of community and understanding from the company they work for. For second and third shift employees, that means opening up the possibility of having overnight daycare facilities for parents that don’t have anyone to stay at home while they work.

Offering an athletic center or gym in your facility can open employees up to the possibility to work on personal growth during their breaks, which only further increases a sense of fulfillment in their lives.


In an ever-changing work landscape, it’s important to keep up productivity in your facility, and employee retention is a large portion of that effort. While offering your second and third shift employees a pay-increase can help fill those job openings, the perceived benefit an employee receives while working goes a lot farther towards a happier and long-term employee.

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