Category: job design

Starbucks employees in Seattle have advocated for predictable, secure scheduling

The Wellness Industry Snoozes Thru the Predictable Scheduling and Clopening Debate

For a group that purports to be committed to wellbeing and helping employees get a good night’s sleep, the wellness industry sure is quiet about the issue of “clopening.” Wellness experts harp on the importance of sleep, and vendors hawk sleep-tracking devices, apps, and programs. But nary a word is spoken about the job conditions  necessary to assure workers have the opportunity to get the sleep they need. It’s hard to get eight hours of sleep if you’re only home for five or six hours between your evening shift and your morning shift. And that’s where “clopening” comes in. The term commonly applies to schedules in...

Construction workers walking

“Health Shapes Work and Work Shapes Health”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as well as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and National Public Radio, may have given a boost last week to advocates of employee wellbeing. Here, I refer to what I consider authentic wellbeing — based on workers’ exposure to harmful job conditions and environments — not the store-bought imitation based on wellness websites, apps, incentives, and medicalized interventions. To promote the findings of their Workplace Health poll of 1,601 workers, these sponsoring organizations waged a publicity blitz that brought the “healthy work” perspective to a broad new audience. A Health in the American Workplace panel, streamed live on the web, served as a centerpiece of the...

Good Work image

NICE! Good Work Is the Key to Good Employee Health

On June 19, 2015, while the U.S. federal government was determining how much employers should be allowed to fine workers for high blood pressure and cholesterol, the United Kingdom’s quasi-governmental National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) was doing something beneficial for employee wellness. NICE issued evidence-based guidelines for management practices and policies that support employee health. In the U.S., where we lean on behavioral programs and medicalized approaches to try to manipulate worker health, NICE’s focus on workforce management and policy may seem…um…foreign. But as often mentioned in this blog, much of the rest of the economically advanced world long ago realized that management...

Balance Scale

At Work, But Out of Whack

Effort-Reward Imbalance Underpins Worker Stress It may be hard to get your brain around abstract models of stress, especially when they don’t line up with the usual fright-or-flight illustrations or seem remediable by the relaxation tips commonly sold as solutions. But if we care about workers, and how employers may be able to help them, we can’t ignore the harmful effects of effort-reward imbalance. Think back to Psych 101 and you’ll remember that most human transactions are based on our expectation of an even exchange, or social reciprocity. It’s like an unwritten contract. We’re hard-wired for evenhandedness, and when we get — or believe we’ve...

Job strain

Job Strain May Be Making You Ill

Job strain is a particularly insidious form of stress that goes far beyond overflowing inboxes or tight deadlines. It is characterized primarily by organizational environments and job structure in which employees have high levels of demands placed on them and limited control over those demands (that is, low “decisional latitude”). This is the demand-control model that was originally described and measured by Robert Karasek. Other organizational and job-related factors that contribute to unhealthy job-related stress are effort-rewards imbalances, long work hours (sometimes including long commutes), job insecurity, and lack of social support on the job. Some researchers have categorized all...