Whether it is the night audit position of a hotel or inn, a security position, or any other position requiring an overnight shift, it takes a special person and set of skills to work the 3rd shift. People need to have the support of their family (or not have a family) in many cases for people to remain on the 3rd shift for an extended period. What I have noticed is that people who excel at working the overnight have partners in their life who work the same shift and/or enjoy working those hours to allow them to balance their school/work/life balance.
In some cases, where I have seen companies fail in their HR strategy on the 3rd shift is to not tailor the work schedule to the needs of the people. At one of my former employers, instead of having our staff on the 3rd shift work 5 nights from 11-7, we moved their schedule to four nights from 10-8. This gave them the opportunity to interact with more of the daytime staff (allowing them to feel more integral to the operation), and allowed us to retain our third shift staff for longer periods.
One way I’d like to see employers address the third shift issue is to split it up into a different schedule – schedule one employee from 5pm to 3am and another from 3am to 11am. Alternatively, splitting the third shift altogether into smaller 5 hour shifts when necessary from 11pm-4am and 4am-9am to maximize staffing options.