Innovating Shift Work Design to Incorporate Heterogeneous Worker Preferences

Harriet Jeon, PhD Candidate at the Wharton School; Hummy Song, Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School; Song-Hee Kim, SNU Business School

Abstract: Shifts are the dominant way to work in many contexts requiring 24/7 coverage, including call centers, police departments, and hospitals. While the detriments of shift work are well-documented both at the individual and organizational levels, its deployment is often unavoidable given round-the-clock staffing needs. We explore a potential organizational lever—incorporating heterogeneous preferences over shift design—to mitigate ramifications of shift work in the context of acute care bedside nurses. Using survey, administrative, and shift data, we examine whether and the extent to which individual choice over dimensions of their shifts mitigates the impact of shift work on work (dis)satisfaction and turnover of nurses.