Compressed lives: How “flexible” are employer-imposed compressed work schedules?
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine employee satisfaction with an employer-imposed compressed workweek (CWW) schedule within a US municipality (City). Design/methodology/approach – The study utilizes an employee survey (n=779) to test factors related to employee satisfaction with the CWW, a four-day, ten-hours/day workweek (4/10 schedule). Findings – Employee satisfaction with the schedule is influenced by previous 4/10 pilot experience, work schedule preference, and happiness with the 4/10 schedule’s implementation. Additionally, sick leave figures and survey results regarding informal substitute work schedules suggest that worker fatigue may limit the overall organizational value of the 4/10 schedule. Research limitations/implications – The study is opportunistic in nature and therefore constrained by the City’s HR Department concerns for survey length and respondent anonymity. This meant an inability to collect demographic data or to utilize validated scales. Practical implications – Analysis suggests that the potential work-life benefits of flexible work schedules may not apply equally to employer-imposed vs employee-chosen compressed work schedules. Further, CWWs engender greater fatigue despite employee satisfaction, an issue manager should consider when weighing schedule costs and benefits. Originality/value – The study highlights the importance of employee choice in conceptualizing flexibility and for capturing CWW benefits, namely: an initiative’s voluntary or involuntary nature should be considered when determining whether it is likely to be beneficial for employees.