Daniel Schneider, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Kristen Harknett, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco.
BERKELEY, CA –New research from The Shift Project at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment explores associations between service sector work schedules and worker wellbeing. The paper, titled “Consequences of Routine Work Schedule Instability for Worker Health and Wellbeing,” was released online today in the American Sociological Review and is accompanied by a research brief highlighting key findings.
Since 2016, The Shift Project has collected unique survey data from retail and food service workers, documenting widespread routine schedule instability and unpredictability. In this paper, researchers provides the first estimates of the impact of these scheduling practices on worker health and wellbeing. They find that, across the board, unpredictable schedules are negatively associated with worse sleep quality, less happiness, and more depression. For example, 43% of workers who have experienced cancelled shifts report feeling unhappy, compared to 26% of those who have not had a shift cancelled.
The researchers also estimate the degree to which policies that would regulate schedule instability and unpredictability would improve worker health and wellbeing. The paper shows that increasing advance notice of schedules and reducing on-call shifts would have large effects on wellbeing and that,
while wage increases are also associated with improvements in health, there is a stronger association in the case of scheduling.
“For hourly workers in retail, higher wages would improve wellbeing ,” said co-author Daniel Schneider, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. “But, one striking finding from our study is that schedule stability and predictability is an even more important determinant of wellbeing.”
View The Shift Project research brief.
To read the paper, access the American Sociological Review online, or view an open-source version from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Daniel Schneider, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley
Kristen Harknett, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco
Megan Collins, Project Manager for The Shift Project at the University of California, Berkeley