Managers' Strategies for Balancing Business Requirements with Employee Needs
Focus of Study
Employment has become increasingly precarious over the past 30 years, due to structural changes in the economy, reductions in labor protections, and evolving employer practices that pass risk from the market onto workers. The current recession is highlighting these insecurities, bringing much needed attention to the plight of disadvantaged workers who are struggling to keep their jobs as well as maintain sufficient hours to make ends meet. In addition to the challenge of getting enough hours, employees' work schedules are often characterized by variability and unpredictability. Schedules change from week to week, with little to no advance warning, and result in earnings fluctuations and disruptions to family life and other nonwork-related spheres. Schedule unpredictability and variability may be the flipside of job flexibility, a much heralded workplace support that remains out of reach for many employees in hourly jobs who have limited ability to influence the amount or the timing of their work.
The University of Chicago Work Scheduling Study was designed to improve understanding of work schedule precariousness and job flexibility in hourly retail jobs. The study is being conducted within a national women's apparel firm. Susan Lambert and Julia Henly are the study's Principal Investigators, and the project is funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the University of Chicago Center for Health Administration Studies.