All “major” industries in Australia experienced an unprecedented rise in the number of shift workers working multiple jobs in 2023, according to a new report from shift work management platform Deputy.
A total of 7% of the shift workforce surveyed held multiple jobs simultaneously last year, exceeding numbers seen in the last 25 years.
This number is higher than figures seen in both the US (5.2%) and the UK (4.9%) and is said to be a reaction to the rising cost of living and ongoing housing pressures.
This trend is led by the hospitality industry, where 8% of surveyed workers hold multiple jobs, followed by 7% in healthcare and 6% in retail. Even in industries like services — professions such as delivery and postal workers, security personnel, and those in employment services — where workers historically preferred to hold only one job, the industry has decadal highs in multi-job holders at 5% of its workforce.
Dr Shashi Karunanethy, Chief Economist at Geografia, collaborated on the report with Deputy, and notes that the majority of multi-job holders are young female shift workers.
“We’re seeing an unprecedented number of shift workers holding multiple jobs, a phenomenon we refer to as poly-employment, in response to the cost-of-living crisis,” he says.
“Females make up 58% of workers working multiple jobs and the majority of these female workers are young.
“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.”
Generational differences also come into play, with the overwhelming majority of multiple job holders being from Gen Z (65%) followed by Millennials (27%).
In 2023, hospitality and retail businesses saw a change in generational tides, according to Deputy. While these industries have long been made up largely of Millennials, Gen Z now takes up the largest share of employment.
In 2023, Gen Z made up 38% of hospitality workers, compared to 34% of Millennial workers. The same trend was seen in retail, where Gen Z made up the majority of the workforce and took up half of the total shift work hours in 2023.
In the services sector, Millennials still make up the majority at 37% of shift work hours. However, this tide is quickly turning with Gen Z close behind at 36%. In 2024, Gen Z is expected to be the largest workforce in the services field as well.
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.
“While it is natural that we would see an increase in Gen Z shift workers, this change is taking place much faster than anticipated, about three years ahead of the projected timeline, and far ahead of their counterparts in other markets,” says Mr Karunanethy.
“With Gen Z taking up the majority of shift work hours, they have the ability to shape workplaces, and business leaders will have to adapt to their specific needs to attract and retain talent amid tight labour conditions.”
For more information and additional findings, access the full report here.