Graveyard Shift: Meaning, Advantages, and Disadvantages

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The term “graveyard shift” refers to the overnight work schedule in retail and F&B businesses. It is necessary to have employees for this shift if the business operates 24 hours a day. However, do you know the origin and history of the term graveyard shift?

Read this article to know more about the graveyard shift, including the advantages and disadvantages of working this shift

What is a Graveyard Shift?

What Is a Graveyard Shift

A “graveyard shift”, also known as the night shift or the midnight shift, refers to a work schedule that typically runs from midnight to early morning. It is commonly associated with retail businesses, as well as other jobs that require 24-hour coverage, such as healthcare workers, security personnel, factory employees, and even F&B businesses.

Typically, employee’s work shift are usually divided into three shifts, which are:

  • Morning Shift

The morning shift usually starts from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. or 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

  • Evening Shift

Usually starts from 4 p.m. until midnight, or 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.

  • Graveyard Shift

Also called as the graveyard watch, usually starts at about midnight until 8 a.m., or starts at 1 a.m. to 9 a.m.

However, the time period of each shifts may differ from one company to another. The time that is listed above is an estimation. This article will mainly focus on the graveyard shift.

Read more: A Comprehensive Guide on Shift Work Schedule Management in the F&B Industry

Why is It Called a Graveyard Shift?

There is an interesting story behind the phrase graveyard shift. This term originated in the late 1800s, during the Industrial Revolution in the United States. As factories began to operate 24 hours a day, there was a need for workers to cover the night shifts. Since then, the term graveyard shift has been discovered. It is referred to as such because the graveyard shift occurs during the late night hours when most people are sleeping, similar to when graveyards are most active.

During the early 20th century, the graveyard shift was primarily associated with manual labour jobs in factories and mines. Many of these jobs were dangerous and required workers to perform complicated tasks in dimly lit or poorly ventilated conditions. As a result, the workers often faced health hazards and were at a higher risk of accidents, which turned to undesired graveyard shift.

Recently, the graveyard shift has become associated with a broader range of occupations, including healthcare, security, customer service, F&B, and retail businesses. Many people work night shifts typically to keep essential services running around the clock, such as hospitals, police stations, and transportation hubs.

Advantages of a Graveyard Shift

Advantages of a Graveyard Shift

Are you thinking about implementing graveyard shifts in your business? You should consider the advantages and disadvantages first before starting this program. Here are some benefits of graveyard shifts.

1. 24 Hours Coverage

The graveyard shift can be an effective solution for businesses that operate 24 hours a day. It allows for continued operation at night, as employees work during these hours. For example, fast food chains are able to provide fresh food at night due to cooks working this shift, and cashiers can serve customers during nighttime hours.

2. Lower Cost

Implementing graveyard shifts can help lower costs associated with operating a 24-hour business. Fewer employees are needed during the night, leading to decreased costs for electricity such as lighting and air conditioning. These savings can be redirected to provide transportation for employees, ensuring safe travel to and from the workplace.

3. Lower Absenteeism

The graveyard shift can be a solution for employees who have daytime obligations such as school or family. This schedule allows them to work at night, potentially reducing absenteeism.

4. Reducing Supervision

The graveyard shift typically has fewer employees than the day shift, which means less supervision is required. Additionally, graveyard shift employees often have more autonomy and responsibility in their work and do not need constant oversight. It’s important to select experienced and self-motivated employees for this shift.

Read more: Guideline for Overtime in Malaysia Labour Law

Disadvantages of a Graveyard Shift

Disadvantages of a Graveyard Shift

Besides the benefits, there are also some disadvantages of the graveyard shift that you should be aware of. What are those disadvantages?

1. Increasing Absenteeism in Day Shift

Employees who work the graveyard shift may experience higher absenteeism if they also work the day shift. This can be due to health issues, sleep disorders, and other problems related to working overnight. It’s important to manage employees’ schedules and rotations to minimise the negative impact of the graveyard shift on their health and well-being.

2. High Turnover Rate

Working the graveyard shift can be challenging for employees, leading to dissatisfaction with their job and potentially contributing to a high turnover rate. This can be costly for employers as they need to spend resources on recruitment and training new employees.

3. Challenges in Scheduling

Scheduling meetings, training, and other events can be challenging when employees work graveyard shifts as they have different schedules. To mitigate this, it is important to effectively manage employee schedules, especially if the business has multiple locations. Failure to do so can lead to miscommunication and confusion.

Read more: Rotational Shift Meaning and Its Benefits for F&B Businesses

In conclusion, working the graveyard shift can have both advantages and disadvantages for both employers and employees. It allows for 24-hour businesses to continue operation at night and can accommodate employees with daytime obligations. However, it can also lead to increased absenteeism, difficulty adjusting to the schedule, and a high turnover rate. Employers should weigh the pros and cons carefully, and implement appropriate measures to mitigate the negative impacts of graveyard shift work and ensure the well-being of their employees.

One such measure that can be implemented is managing your employees’ schedule with automation! With StaffAny’s employee shift scheduling software, you can manage and have visibility over your staff’s scheduled hours across multiple outlets. Want to reduce roster scheduling errors between nighttime and daytime employees? StaffAny’s automated scheduling system will highlight clashing shifts for you, helping you to avoid errors and overlaps in staff scheduling. Contact us through WhatsApp to learn more about StaffAny.

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