Oct 07, 2015

Does your boss jerk you around on your work schedule?

If you’ve seen Office Space, you’ll be familiar with boss Bill Lumbergh’s line: “Ahh, I’m also going to need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.”

If you haven’t seen the 1999 movie, and you’re still familiar with it, you may be caught up in what a new study says are widespread scheduling troubles affecting hourly workers in the services sector.

The WorkJam study of employees in U.S. services industries found that 56 per cent of workers got their schedules only up to a week, and sometimes less, ahead of time.

“This tight timeframe provides workers with little flexibility to accommodate personal obligations such as education, child care, and elder care or other jobs,” the report said.

Almost 30 per cent, said the study by WorkJam, a company launched in January, got consistent schedules only “rarely.”

“The hourly work economy is broken due to historical misalignment between employees and their employers regarding hiring, scheduling and management,” WorkJam chief executive officer Steven Kramer said in unveiling the study, which involved more than 700 workers and 500 managers.

“This friction has resulted in widespread repercussions on the social, political and business front.”

The study is American, though no doubt the findings would be similar, at least in some ways, in Canada. And, of course, union contracts often dictate scheduling routines.

Still, there are lessons for both managers and employees in the survey by WorkJam, the company behind software that helps services companies, such as a retailer or restaurant, hire and schedule.

More than 25 per cent of workers said they quit their previous jobs because of scheduling problems, while almost 50 per cent on the management side said they schedule workers for consecutive closing and opening shifts.

Almost 70 per cent of managers said they find it hard to meet the scheduling needs of both workers and their companies.

Michael Babad / The Globe and Mail

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