Morning bias

Morning Bias image

Tessara Smith,  PayScale

Let’s face it, managers love when employees make it in to work early. They get to walk in the door and see that many of their team members have already gotten a “jump start” on the heavy work load for the day. Apparently having the ability to roll out of bed at an earlier hour equals greater praise from managers. These early risers are the individuals who are regarded as disciplined and dedicated overachievers, but do employees who work late nights get the same recognition? Not in the slightest. 

When it comes to comparing employees who start early and those who stay late, not all workers are created equal. Even in cases where they have been completing the same amount of work, the standard phrase “the early bird gets the worm” continues to ring true when it comes to employee recognition. Students at the UW Foster School of Business have coined the term for this attitude as “morning bias”. 

According to their research, employees who opt to work an earlier shift are perceived as harder workers than their late rising counterparts. I guess this means bad news for workers with difficulty waking up at the crack of dawn. Even though employees who pull late night shifts may be getting twice as much done as employees working early mornings, managers still seem to fixate on the workers who are getting the job done before the sun comes up. In the hustle and bustle of everyday business functions, it is important for leaders to take a step back and acknowledge that employees are individuals who have their own circadian rhythms and energy schedules. While your “star” employee Steve may be super productive from 6am to 12pm; Janet arrives to work at 6am exhausted and consequently does not get going on her projects until the last two hours she is in the office. 

Although it may seem logical to have your employees start their day early to optimize work time, in terms of employee productivity, this strategy actually proves to be counterproductive. A typical workday consists of eight hours, usually 9-5, but if it doesn’t make a difference to you, accommodating for a 10-6, or an 11-7 work schedule, may be the key to a more productive workplace. Additionally, many of your early birds would much rather come in even earlier but leave before the traditional end time, so that they can have more free time in the evening. By giving your employees the freedom to set their own schedule, you can reduce their stress levels and boost their ability to perform.

Many companies have caught on to this strategy and become strong proponents of flextime however; their innovative scheduling policy is still being devalued by their manager’s morning bias. Unless employees genuinely don’t care about how they are viewed by their employer, options for those who aren’t morning people are to either force themselves to start coming to go to work early or start working for someone who comes in to the office late. The struggle between doing what is best for their well-being and doing what is best for their career path is a challenge. Employees working for companies across the nation can agree that the attitude of morning bias is démodé and that management should start adopting a more modern perspective. As a leader, consistency is one of the keys to maintaining employee satisfaction. If your company has decided to adopt flextime scheduling, than my advice to you is to either work to combat the attitude of morning bias so as not to contradict your company’s values.

Want to learn more about what matters to employees in the workplace? This new whitepaper has the answers: Compensation Challenges for a Multi-Generational Workforce

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