Gap experiment shows that stable scheduling boosts productivity, sales
- Giving hourly retail workers predictable schedules can boost productivity and increase sales, researchers concluded after conducting an experiment with retailer Gap. A partnership of organizations conducted the Stable Scheduling Study.
- The Center for WorkLife Law, a research and advocacy organization at UC Hastings College of the Law and one of the organizations involved, says the study tested scheduling in 28 stores in the Chicago and San Francisco areas. In those stores that adopted stable scheduling, employees knew their schedules two weeks in advance and were never on call. More criteria — such as start and end time consistency — were added as the study advanced to a second phase.
- The results revealed that with consistent, predictable schedules, labor productivity improved by 5% and median sales rose by 7%. The study also found that often-cited fluctuating customer demand wasn't the main cause of instability in scheduling. Instead, store managers said unpredictable shifts were mostly caused by inaccuracies in shipment information, last-minute changes in promotions, and visits by corporate leaders.
Lawmakers across the country are considering measures that would mandate predictive scheduling, and some have already adopted such laws.
Proponents argue that unpredictable schedules leave workers unable to budget and make it difficult for them to make medical appointments and child care arrangements. And now, based on this most recent study, it seems there may be a silver lining for employers. Still, the results remain to be fully seen, and one study that looked at San Francisco's ordinance found that employers offered less work as a result.
Regardless, employers are likely to see more of these laws. Experts say that with the federal government's pro-business stance, state and local governments will continue to adopt more employee-friendly laws, including those requiring predictable schedules.