Project Overview

A crucial dimension of job quality and a potential lever for economic mobility is schedule stability and control. Yet most hourly workers in retail and other service industries report having little to no control over their work schedules. Interventions to increase scheduling control has yielded positive outcomes for white-collar workers, but more evidence is needed on how such approaches might affect a variety of health, well-being, and economic outcomes for hourly wage workers.

Considered a “high-road” employer by several metrics, IKEA nonetheless offers workers little control over their schedules. Daniel Schneider and Kristen Harknett, codirectors of the Shift Project, based at the Harvard Kennedy School, will embark on a pilot experiment with IKEA that develops, tests, and evaluates new ways of giving hourly workers greater control over their schedules. The researchers will also assess effects on business outcomes. As part of their work, they will analyze IKEA work schedule data, conduct extensive interviews with IKEA workers and managers, and work closely with IKEA to implement the experiment with treatment and control groups. This research aims to engage and catalyze action among large service-sector employers toward greater scheduling control.