More than eight years ago we wrote about the evils of Wal-Mart's on-call scheduling system for workers. The system may have changed---I certainly hope so---but one of my favorite writers on all-topics-productive, Oliver Burkeman, wrote this week about two studies demonstrating the high levels of unhealthy stressed induced by uncertainty in work demands. Writing in Put Your Life In Flight Mode for The Guardian, Burkeman ledes:
It wasn’t overly surprising, really, to learn from two recent psychology studies that being “on call” is stressful, exhausting and dampens your mood. The tribulations of sleep-deprived junior doctors are legendary, while zero-hours contracts and unpredictable work schedules are subjects of controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. But there are plenty of things wrong with those kinds of jobs: the sleep disruption of shift work; the family disruption of irregular hours; low pay. These studies---one German, one Dutch---sought to pinpoint the specific psychological costs of knowing you could be called upon, so that you can’t entirely relax. Compared with genuine time off, on-call days left workers tired and unhappy, and with higher levels of cortisol in their bloodstreams, regardless of whether they ended up working or not. It also didn’t much matter if they had only a few on-call hours per week; those hours were tense and miserable all the same.
Tense and miserable. Sound right Walmart workers? In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at WAIT, WALMART HIRED RANDOMLY…? from 10 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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