Shift Workers - Fortune 500 Companies
It is estimated that between 4.23 million and 5.64 million employees at Fortune 500 companies are shift workers, or between 15 and 20 percent.
In order to find the information, research was carried out to locate data from credible employment websites and databases, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labour Office, employment surveys, and trusted media sources such as Fortune and Forbes. However, the extensive search did not yield any data that directly shows the number or percentage of shift workers at Fortune 500 companies. A further attempt to triangulate this data by researching a handful of individual Fortune 500 companies as case studies also proved futile due to the fact that none of the companies that were sampled had any 'shift worker' employment data publicly available.
The reason why this data could not be found appears to be due to several reasons: 1) Companies tend to publicly report only high-level data about their employees in their annual reports and elsewhere, such as general employee counts and sometimes demographic data; 2) Across the statistical landscape, data regarding shift workers both domestically and internationally was found to be severely lacking or out-of-date. For example, a 2007 International Labour Office (ILO) report directly noted that "reliable comparative information on work schedules around the world is essentially non-existent." Although this report is quite out-of-date, this lack of information was further corroborated by a 2017 report by the ILO on work times around the world, as this report was also citing the same out-of-date data sets regarding 'shift work' that were encountered throughout our research. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the last time they conducted a shift-work study among full-time workers was in May 2004.
Despite the overall lack of information regarding this topic, it was possible to triangulate an estimate for the number of shift workers at Fortune 500 companies using the body of existing data. This triangulation has been explained in detail below.
Findings and triangulation
According to Investopedia, the Fortune 500 is a list of the largest companies in the United States ranked according to revenue. Collectively, these companies employ 28.2 million people. This employee count will be used in the triangulation below. It should be noted here that the number of American employees versus international employees at these companies was not found to be readily available. However, given that all Fortune 500 companies are based in the U.S., it seemed appropriate for the purposes of this research to still rely on their total employee count and analyze the topic from that perspective.
The following data points regarding the percentage of shift workers among all workers were uncovered during the research:
- One-fifth (or 20%) of employees in Australia, the European Union, and the U.S. are shift workers, according to a 2017 report by the ILO which cites data from reports published in 2010, 2017, and 2007 .
- About 15% of U.S. employees work non-traditional hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2004.
- As of 2017, 20% of employees in the EU worked at night, which increased from 10% from a decade and a half earlier, according to the Global Wellness Institute.
The collective findings above were combined and used as a proxy to estimate the number of shift workers that are employed by Fortune 500 companies. Therefore, it is estimated that 15-20% of employees at Fortune 500 companies are shift workers. Assuming this proxy is accurate, this would mean that between 4.23 million and 5.64 million employees at Fortune 500 companies are shift workers (or 28.2 million Fortune 500 employees x 15 / 100 = 4.23 million; 28.2 million Fortune 500 employees x 20 / 100 = 5.64 million).
While researching this topic, a handful of other intriguing data points were uncovered. These data points have been presented below for further reading:
- "According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, nearly 3 in 5 workers (59 percent) believe the traditional 9-to-5 worday is a thing of the past. Forty-five percent of workers say they complete work outside of office hours; and 49 percent say they check or answer emails when they leave work. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder between May 11 and June 7, 2016, and included a representative sample of 3,244 full-time workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes."
- "Almost 15 percent of full-time wage and salary workers usually worked an alternative shift in May 2004. By type of shift, 4.7 percent of the total worked evening shifts, 3.2 percent worked night shifts, 3.1 percent worked employer-arranged irregular schedules, and 2.5 percent worked rotating shifts."
- "Over half (54.6 percent) of those working an alternative shift did so because it was the 'nature of the job.' Other reasons for working a non-daytime schedule included 'personal preference' (11.5 percent), 'better arrangements for family or child care' (8.2 percent), 'could not get any other job' (8.1 percent), and 'better pay' (6.8 percent). Many of those who worked night and evening shifts chose such schedules due to personal preference (21.0 and 15.9 percent, respectively) or because these shifts facilitated better arrangements for family or child care (15.9 and 11.0 percent, respectively). The vast majority of those with rotating, split, and employer-arranged irregular schedules reported the 'nature of the job' as the reason for working a non-daytime schedule."