7% of shift workers hold a second job to combat cost of living

A total of 7% of the shift workforce held multiple jobs simultaneously in 2023, exceeding numbers seen in the last 25 years. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key Points:

  • The majority of multi-job holders are young female shift workers
  • Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found while females generally make less than men, part-time females are out-earning and out-working their male counterparts, making up 29% of employees compared to 13%
  • In the services sector, Millennials still make up the majority at 37% of shift work hours however, Gen Z is close behind at 36%. In 2024, Gen Z is expected to be the largest workforce in the services field as well

A new report suggests all major industries experienced an unprecedented rise in the number of shift workers working multiple jobs in 2023, including 7% of healthcare workers. 

This spike in shift workers holding multiple jobs is a reaction to the rising cost of living and ongoing housing pressures, a major cause for concern for shift workers across the country.

Even in industries where workers historically preferred to hold only one job, we have seen decadal highs in multi-job holders at 5% of their workforce.

Doctor Shashi Karunanethy, Chief Economist at Geografia, collaborated on the report with shift work management platform Deputy and noted we’re seeing a high number of shift workers holding multiple jobs – a phenomenon referred to as poly-employment – that is mainly prevalent among young female workers and commonly seen in the health and aged care industry. 

Shift workers from healthcare and aged care industries tend to hold multiple roles within the same industry. For example, contract nurses often work across different clinics and hospitals if they are unable to get enough hours from their primary position. 

“Some of these workers also have positions outside of the healthcare and aged care sector, with the most common crossover with the hospitality industry,” said Dr Karunanethy.

Burnout concerns

Although the trend of poly-employment in healthcare may pose questions around burnout, Dr Karunanethy told HelloCare the industry as a whole and its sub-industries remain resilient as we’re seeing overall rising employment levels. 

While pay rises for aged care employees could account for rising employment levels, technological advancements such as AI are also improving the efficiency and functions of health and aged care jobs, improving the overall productivity and work experience of employees. 

“Particularly, healthcare and services industries are projected to lead the charge here over the next five years due to an ageing population and more funding provided by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),” he said. 

Generational changes

Healthcare is the only industry where Millennials still account for the majority of work hours. In the medium term, this is expected to continue, given the industry’s propensity to attract and retain older workers.

But according to a previous report by Deputy, Gen Z workers were most likely to agree that their pay has not kept up with inflation, contributing to the rise in multiple job holders among this cohort. 

Dr Karunanethy said having entered the workforce during the pandemic, a period of instability and widespread layoffs, this generation is using poly-employment not only as a means to navigate rising costs, but also in the search for sustainable employment, reliable shifts, and financial stability.

“I’ve worked in hospitality since I was fifteen years old and I’ve always had multiple jobs on the go. From originally working at McDonalds to becoming a waitress at an Italian family-owned restaurant, to picking up shifts working with disabled children — I love keeping busy,” said Gen Z shift worker Tylah Sherritt.

“I find working multiple jobs at the same time allows me to pick up shifts that fit my schedule, stay engaged with the work, and socialise with different people too.” 

Access the full Deputy report here.

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