Flextime is one of those perks that can help to attract and retain high-performing employees. But, it turns out flextime is just a pretty, shiny new toy that employers like to hand out. A new study found that employers still want workers to get to work early, regardless of flextime policies.
The study from the University of Washintgon found that managers gave employees who showed up to work early a higher rating than those who stay late. This is regardless of the amount of hours the employees put in during the day. According to the research, managers buy into the stereotype that early birds are harder workers. They have the perception that those who start later in the day don't work as hard, are less disciplined and less conscientious, which, managers feel, shows in worker performance.
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The study involved a survey of 229 pairs of employee and manager. Employee start times ranged from 5am to 9:45am, averaging at 8:42am. Even when taking into account total time worked and usual starting times in the workplace, those who started later were still rated worse.
A second study involved undergraduates from an American university who were asked to assume the role of the manager at a fictional company to rate employee job performances. They were given identical profiles with varied starting times. The later start times received significantly lower ratings, regardless of productivity and total hours worked.
However, managers who tend to start later themselves are less likely to give lower ratings to employees who do the same.
With so many companies offering flexible hours, and so many employees looking for position in which flextime is possible, this study poses a major issue. Flextime offers workers a way to schedule their workdays around family and other obligations, and probably don't know that it could be hurting their careers. So, while your boss says s/he supports flextime, they might still be holding on to the old proverb, "the early bird gets the worm."