UW study: Bosses biased toward early risers

For businesses with flexible schedule policies, bosses prefer early risers to night owls, according to a recent study by the University of Washington.

That morning bias ultimately could mean fewer raises and promotions for the night owls.

Flextime policies let employees choose when their workday’s start and end — often within a range of acceptable hours set by the employer.

The policies have become increasingly popular in America. The study’s authors — a doctoral student and two assistant professors at the UW Foster School of Business — set out to answer a simple question: Are employees helped or hurt in their careers by how they use flextime?

“In three separate studies, we found evidence of a natural morning bias at work,” said Kai Chi Yam, the doctoral student, in news release from UW.

Those three studies were each part of their overall study, which will be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

“Compared to people who choose to work earlier in the day, people who choose to work later in the day are implicitly assumed to be less conscientious and less effective in their jobs,” he said.

The team adjusted for factors such as how many hours people worked and still found workers who clocked in earlier tended to get higher performance ratings from supervisors.

And that could mean fewer raises and promotions.

Organizations need to make managers aware of the bias and performance evaluations should be based on as many objective standards as possible, Yam said.

Workers who prefer or have to start later in the day should talk about their schedule and productivity with supervisors to make it clear that when they clock in doesn’t affect how much they get done in a day, he said.

Otherwise, flextime policies could ultimately be seen as career stumbling blocks, Yam said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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