G. Lu, R. Du, David Xiaosong Peng
Jul 27, 2022
Manuf. Serv. Oper. Manag.
Problem definition: Lawmakers have begun to introduce “fair schedule” legislations that require employers to provide shift workers with more predictable and consistent work schedules. Business owners are concerned that the resultant loss of scheduling flexibility could reduce overall operational efficiency. We argue this is not necessarily the case. Academic/practical relevance: Although recent studies suggest that increasing schedule predictability by reducing “just-in-time” scheduling can increase productivity, few have examined the effects of schedule consistency on worker productivity. Our study fills this void by investigating the impact of schedule consistency on cashier productivity in grocery retailing. Methodology: We estimate econometric models using transaction level scanner data including more than 1.2 million shopping baskets processed by 126 cashiers working for a local grocer. Work schedule consistency is operationalized via two metrics: (1) hour-of-the-day consistency measuring whether a cashier is consistently scheduled to work in the same hours of the day, and (2) day-of-the-week consistency measuring whether a cashier is consistently scheduled to work on the same days of the week. Results: We find that, on average, hour-of-the-day consistency and day-of-the-week consistency increase cashier productivity by 0.95% and 1.63%, respectively. These effects are much stronger for inexperienced cashiers (e.g., an average productivity boost of 3.39% and 7.93%, respectively, for the new hires). Managerial implications: Our findings suggest that (a) business owners can increase shift workers’ productivity by providing them with more consistent work schedules, and (b) the productivity of less-experienced shift workers, especially new hires, is more vulnerable to inconsistent work schedules, highlighting the potential for operational efficiency gains from greater schedule consistency, especially for businesses employing a high portion of inexperienced shift workers.