Management in the 24/7-society raises concerns of fairness and social responsibility
Rönkä, Anna; Ekonen, Marianne; Tammelin, Mia; Turja, Leena (2018)
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Purpose – Despite the pressure on work-family polices arising from the increase in nonstandard working times in various sectors, only a few studies have addressed management practices in 24/7 workplaces. This paper aims to investigate the challenges Finnish managers face in meeting the various tensions stemming from nonstandard working hours and services operating 24/7. Two typical 24/7 work contexts are focused: the hospitality and retail industries and flexibly scheduled early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. The emphasis is on management practices relating to the planning of work shifts and children’s care schedules. Design/methodology/approach – Study 1 comprises focus group interviews with middle managers (N = 20) working in hotels, stores and service stations with restaurants and shopping facilities. Study 2 uses survey data on directors (N = 20) of centers offering flexibly scheduled ECEC services. Findings – The results showed that management in 24/7 workplaces raises issues of fairness and social responsibility. Managers in both sectors were faced with constantly varying service demands, leading further to changes and unpredictability in employee working times. Alongside organizational goals, the business managers reported needing to consider employee needs and the ECEC service directors the well-being of parents and children. They also reported seeking the most cost-effective way to deliver services at a time of budget cuts. Research limitations/implications – The relatively small sample sizes and non-representative nature of the data restrict the generalizability of the results. Practical implications – Service organizations need to design a 24/7 strategy that includes organizational communication and guidelines on fair work scheduling. Key issues in management are finding ways to enhance predictability within unpredictability, discussing the most common ethical problems and developing the skills needed to manage diversity. These are elements that should be included in management training. Originality/value – The study contributes to the literature by focusing on seldom studied issues and innovately approached by comparing two work sectors.