Forty Hours Doesn't Work for Everyone: Examining Employee Preferences for Work Hours
Zahn, Lindsey A.; Sturman, Michael C.
Current economic conditions have caused many employers to reduce employees’ work hours—a trend that will likely continue if the economy worsens. Yet research on work hours is limited, as most studies in this area have focused on the effects of employees’ working in excess of a 40-hour work week. This report seeks to specifically examine the effect of “hours mismatch,” which is defined as the mismatch between the number of hours the employee desires to work and the actual number of hours worked. Based on a study of 1,032 individuals, the results show that hours mismatch is an important predictor of attitudinal outcomes, including life satisfaction, work-family conflict, job stress, and intent to turn over. Moreover, the measurement of difference is generally more predictive than simply measuring hours worked. The results show that working either more than the desired hours or less than desired hours has effects on attitudes like job stress, intent to turn over, and life satisfaction. Although employees disliked working “over hours,” a substantial shortage of work hours was far worse. Although employers may face the need to reduce workers’ hours, this study suggests the importance of taking into account workers’ preferences when determining work schedules, or at least understanding the kind of psychological impact that reduced hours will have on their workforce.
work hours; employee schedules; job performance; job stress
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