Thursday, December 05, 2019

Improving Society and Employee Satisfaction: Give Advance Notice of Work Schedules Changes

Work schedules

This isn't rocket science, but it continues to elude many employers.

One of the answers to balancing a work life environment for the average team member or employee in your company doesn't have to come with free food, free spas and yoga classes. It is as simple as your managers and workforce teams upholding a principle often ignored in a broad range of industry sectors and occupations. The principle is this: give sufficient notice when changing your employee's schedules.

In a study by Daniel Schenider, and Kristen Harknett of  UC Berkeley's Sociology Department, found that a third of those that work in the retail and food service industries (25 million), receive less than one week notice on schedules. (Schenider 2019)

An Ethical Dilemma: It Impacts Society

Ethically we know this principle in general is good.

For instance, a working parent having to balance child care needs will require sufficient notice to adjust babysitting needs. It is ethically good to provide notice so that your workers can satisfy work schedule requirements and be able to take care the needs of their home.

There is significant literature that correlates the impact of children and their developmental trajectories because of their parents unable to properly spend time with them and their employer's inability to give them appropriate notice on work schedules (Hepburn 2018).

In short, employers giving advance notice helps families and in the long run, stabilizes society.

Grass Roots Local Ordinances

Legally, we're already seeing local ordinances in the United States popping up recognizing the damage that lack of routine creates.

Since 2014, from Chicago to Philadelphia, policymakers have begun recognizing the empirical research and the ethics behind reducing unstable work schedules.

Dubbed the "Fair Workweek Ordinance", Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfood has signed into law in July 2019, that large employers at least give two weeks advanced notice for schedule changes and to compensate them for any last minute changes.

The final version of the bill also puts careful focus on low income families earning less than $26 an hour as to help balance the fact that managers and executives may have sufficient buffer to manage around unstable work schedules.

Preparing Your Company

If you do not measure how many of your employees get proper notice for a work schedule change, you should. Sure, maybe later the time will come when it is a legal necessity, but drive your efficiencies now to ensure you can measure the impact to your business, and make adjustments.

Not only will it help  your employees (regardless whether they recognize it or not) the data shows you are doing good for families and in society in general.

Hepburn, P. (2018). Parental Work Schedules and Child‐Care Arrangements in Low‐Income
Families. Journal of Marriage & Family, 80(5), 1187–1209.

Schneider, D., Harknett, K., & Collins, M. (2019, July 24). Consequences of Routine Work Schedule
Instability for Worker Health and Wellbeing. Retrieved from