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Paying for ideal discretion: a framed field experiment on working time arrangements

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Paying for ideal discretion: a framed field experiment on working time arrangements

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The notion of ideal worker necessitates being available at the discretion of the employer in terms of time. By contrast, the ability to set one's own schedule is widely considered a cornerstone of work-life balance and job satisfaction. We provide causal evidence on the pecuniary and social valuation of the discretion to decide about working schedules. We embed our study in the context of gender and compare employee-initiated and employer-initiated request for a change towards more discretion over working hours. We show that employer-initiated availability should be reflected in higher wages, but the premium is small. There appears to be no penalty to employee-initiated request for autonomy to decide about working schedules. While our results lend support to the ideal worker model, they cast doubt on explanations linking gender wage inequality to labor market flexibility.

The notion of ideal worker necessitates being available at the discretion of the employer in terms of time. By contrast, the ability to set one's own schedule is widely considered a cornerstone of work-life balance and job satisfaction. We provide causal evidence on the pecuniary and social valuation of the discretion to decide about working schedules. We embed our study in the context of gender and compare employee-initiated and employer-initiated request for a change towards more discretion over working hours. We show that employer-initiated availability should be reflected in higher wages, but the premium is small. There appears to be no penalty to employee-initiated request for autonomy to decide about working schedules. While our results lend support to the ideal worker model, they cast doubt on explanations linking gender wage inequality to labor market flexibility.

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Paying for ideal discretion: a framed field experiment on working time arrangements

  1. 1. Paying for ideal (discretion): Paying for ideal (discretion): an experiment on working time arrangements M. Smyk | J. Tyrowicz | L. van der Velde Trier | IAAEU | Workshop on Performance Pay and Employee Outcomes December 2022
  2. 2. Paying for ideal (discretion): Motivation The notion of ideal worker (Batt and Valcour 2003, Kauffeld et al. 2004, McNall et al. 2009, Guillaume and Pochic 2009, Davies and Frink 2014) Providing flexibility on demand is expected (Williams 2001, Chung 2020) Asking for flexibility is penalized (and gendered) (Vandello et al. 2013, Blair-Loy et al. 2013, Brescoll et al. 2013)
  3. 3. Paying for ideal (discretion): Motivation The notion of ideal worker (Batt and Valcour 2003, Kauffeld et al. 2004, McNall et al. 2009, Guillaume and Pochic 2009, Davies and Frink 2014) Providing flexibility on demand is expected (Williams 2001, Chung 2020) Asking for flexibility is penalized (and gendered) (Vandello et al. 2013, Blair-Loy et al. 2013, Brescoll et al. 2013) Goldin (2014) conjecture (Cortes and Pan 2019)
  4. 4. Paying for ideal (discretion): Motivation The notion of ideal worker (Batt and Valcour 2003, Kauffeld et al. 2004, McNall et al. 2009, Guillaume and Pochic 2009, Davies and Frink 2014) Providing flexibility on demand is expected (Williams 2001, Chung 2020) Asking for flexibility is penalized (and gendered) (Vandello et al. 2013, Blair-Loy et al. 2013, Brescoll et al. 2013) Goldin (2014) conjecture (Cortes and Pan 2019) Not a forgone conclusion: worker autonomy (Hayman 2009, Peters et al. 2009, Shagvaliyeva and Yazdanifard 2014, Angelici and Profeta 2020)
  5. 5. Paying for ideal (discretion): Our contribution Put ideal worker to a litmus test of pay We ask Should ideal worker be rewarded for availability? Is this premium gender-specific?
  6. 6. Paying for ideal (discretion): Our contribution Put ideal worker to a litmus test of pay We ask Should ideal worker be rewarded for availability? Is this premium gender-specific? Field vignette experiment (2 × 2 design) on a change in working time arrangements (WTA) Vignettes for initiator of change in WTA: employer vs employee Vignettes for workers: women vs men
  7. 7. Paying for ideal (discretion): Our contribution Put ideal worker to a litmus test of pay We ask Should ideal worker be rewarded for availability? Is this premium gender-specific? Field vignette experiment (2 × 2 design) on a change in working time arrangements (WTA) Vignettes for initiator of change in WTA: employer vs employee Vignettes for workers: women vs men Incentivized experiment about own ability to supply flexibility Inquire gender norms and FWC/WFC + preference for equality (overall & gender)
  8. 8. Paying for ideal (discretion): The vignette experiment
  9. 9. Paying for ideal (discretion): The vignette experiment A worker currently works in a regular, fixed schedule, five days a week Three occupations: hairdresser, lawyer, sales person Two genders of workers: man or woman
  10. 10. Paying for ideal (discretion): The vignette experiment A worker currently works in a regular, fixed schedule, five days a week Three occupations: hairdresser, lawyer, sales person Two genders of workers: man or woman A change to discretion over start / end hours at short notice Employer OR employee initiate the change
  11. 11. Paying for ideal (discretion): The vignette experiment A worker currently works in a regular, fixed schedule, five days a week Three occupations: hairdresser, lawyer, sales person Two genders of workers: man or woman A change to discretion over start / end hours at short notice Employer OR employee initiate the change Within subject: both gender and initiator vary (all 3 occupations, at least 2 genders and at least 2 initiators) Between subject: a specific combination out of all possible cases (3 occupations × 2 genders × 2 initiators = 12)
  12. 12. Paying for ideal (discretion): The vignette experiment A worker currently works in a regular, fixed schedule, five days a week Three occupations: hairdresser, lawyer, sales person Two genders of workers: man or woman A change to discretion over start / end hours at short notice Employer OR employee initiate the change Within subject: both gender and initiator vary (all 3 occupations, at least 2 genders and at least 2 initiators) Between subject: a specific combination out of all possible cases (3 occupations × 2 genders × 2 initiators = 12) Pay scheme: small payment for participation additional pay for completing a second, delayed part of the survey
  13. 13. Paying for ideal (discretion): Elements of the survey After they complete the vignettes, participants have more questions Demographics, education, income, managerial experience Family-work conflict and work-family conflict (Netemeyer et al. 1996)
  14. 14. Paying for ideal (discretion): Elements of the survey After they complete the vignettes, participants have more questions Demographics, education, income, managerial experience Family-work conflict and work-family conflict (Netemeyer et al. 1996) Valuing own time availability: participants choose when to finish survey the longer the window, the lower the pay two choices: wait 5 minutes, or wait 30 minutes wait time randomly assigned paid only if compliant with the selected window for the assigned wait time
  15. 15. Paying for ideal (discretion): Elements of the survey After they complete the vignettes, participants have more questions Demographics, education, income, managerial experience Family-work conflict and work-family conflict (Netemeyer et al. 1996) Valuing own time availability: participants choose when to finish survey the longer the window, the lower the pay two choices: wait 5 minutes, or wait 30 minutes wait time randomly assigned paid only if compliant with the selected window for the assigned wait time Egalitarian gender beliefs Aspirations and inequality aversion
  16. 16. Paying for ideal (discretion): Results The sample 963 vignettes from 321 subjects 49.84% were women, on average 38.5 years, 50% with tertiary education 40% has had managerial (wage barganing) experience
  17. 17. Paying for ideal (discretion): Results The sample 963 vignettes from 321 subjects 49.84% were women, on average 38.5 years, 50% with tertiary education 40% has had managerial (wage barganing) experience Manipulation check questions (understanding vignettes) 40% of the subjects fail at least 1 of 9 questions 60% of those fail only 1 question (first)
  18. 18. Paying for ideal (discretion): Results Treatment effects: directions of recommended wage changes
  19. 19. Paying for ideal (discretion): Results Treatment effects: change in wage
  20. 20. Paying for ideal (discretion): Results Treatment effects: regression results Preferred sample Full sample in USD per month in % in USD per month in % (1) (2) (3) (4) (1a) (2a) (3a) (4a) T: employer = 1 17.20*** 18.05*** 2.95*** 2.87*** 22.04*** 25.35*** 3.13*** 3.40*** (4.85) (6.54) (0.56) (0.69) (6.80) (8.16) (0.93) (1.00) T: woman= 1 -3.02 -0.11 0.15 0.44 -4.00 -2.16 0.04 0.35 (4.87) (5.30) (0.37) (0.54) (6.59) (8.60) (0.82) (1.05) T: employer × woman 10.30* 8.96 0.10 -0.02 0.28 -3.02 -0.34 -0.75 (6.17) (7.43) (0.62) (0.93) (13.50) (19.74) (1.45) (1.98) δXi Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No δv Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Observations 570 570 570 570 963 963 963 963 R2 0.10 0.54 0.13 0.58 0.02 0.46 0.03 0.50
  21. 21. Paying for ideal (discretion): Results Robustness and extensions Results are not heterogeneous across Gender of the subjects Education of the subjects Managerial experience of the subjects Social norms: own responses congruent with beliefs about others responses More so in the employer treatment Adjusting for social norms & gender beliefs changes nothing Skin in the game: discretion over when to complete the task in experiment Family-work conflict and Work-family conflict + importance of work Egalitarian gender beliefs + preference for social equality
  22. 22. Paying for ideal (discretion): Conclusions Employers should pay for availability Very robust effects for EMPLOYER treatment No effects for the gender of the worker, regardless of initiator No evidence for Goldin’s conjecture These norms do not seem to be mediated by gender beliefs
  23. 23. Paying for ideal (discretion): Conclusions Employers should pay for availability Very robust effects for EMPLOYER treatment No effects for the gender of the worker, regardless of initiator No evidence for Goldin’s conjecture These norms do not seem to be mediated by gender beliefs Effects, if present, are small (approx. 20$ per month, or 3%) When they are insignificant, they are actually even smaller, so not a false null
  24. 24. Paying for ideal (discretion): Conclusions Questions or suggestions? Thank you! w: grape.org.pl t: grape org f: grape.org e: j.tyrowicz@grape.org.pl
  25. 25. Paying for ideal (discretion): Conclusions References I Angelici, M. and Profeta, P.: 2020, Smart-working: Work flexibility without constraints, CESifo Working Papers 8165, CESifo. Batt, R. and Valcour, P. M.: 2003, Human resources practices as predictors of work-family outcomes and employee turnover, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society 42(2), 189–220. Blair-Loy, M., Williams, J. C. and Berdahl, J. L.: 2013, Cultural schemas, social class, and the flexibility stigma: Cultural schemas and social class, Journal of Social Issues 69(2), 209–234. Brescoll, V. L., Glass, J. and Sedlovskaya, A.: 2013, Ask and ye shall receive? the dynamics of employer-provided flexible work options and the need for public policy, Journal of Social Issues 69(2), 367–388. Chung, H.: 2020, Gender, flexibility stigma and the perceived negative consequences of flexible working in the UK, Social Indicators Research 151(2), 521–545. Cortes, P. and Pan, J.: 2019, When time binds: Substitutes for household production, returns to working long hours, and the skilled gender wage gap, Journal of Labor Economics 37(2), 351–398. Davies, A. R. and Frink, B. D.: 2014, The origins of the ideal worker: The separation of work and home in the United States from the market revolution to 1950, Work and Occupations 41(1), 18–39. Goldin, C.: 2014, A grand gender convergence: Its last chapter, American Economic Review 104(4), 1091–1119. Guillaume, C. and Pochic, S.: 2009, What would you sacrifice? access to top management and the work–life balance, Gender, Work & Organization 16(1), 14–36. Hayman, J. R.: 2009, Flexible work arrangements: Exploring the linkages between perceived usability of flexible work schedules and work/life balance, Community, work & family 12(3), 327–338.
  26. 26. Paying for ideal (discretion): Conclusions References II Kauffeld, S., Jonas, E. and Frey, D.: 2004, Effects of a flexible work-time design on employee-and company-related aims, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 13(1), 79–100. McNall, L. A., Masuda, A. D. and Nicklin, J. M.: 2009, Flexible work arrangements, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions: The mediating role of work-to-family enrichment, Journal of Psychology 144(1), 61–81. Netemeyer, R. G., Boles, J. S. and McMurrian, R.: 1996, Development and validation of work–family conflict and family–work conflict scales., Journal of Applied Psychology 81(4), 400–410. Peters, P., Den Dulk, L. and Van Der Lippe, T.: 2009, The effects of time-spatial flexibility and new working conditions on employees’ work–life balance: The dutch case, Community, Work & Family 12(3), 279–297. Shagvaliyeva, S. and Yazdanifard, R.: 2014, Impact of flexible working hours on work-life balance, American Journal of Industrial and Business Management 2014. Vandello, J. A., Hettinger, V. E., Bosson, J. K. and Siddiqi, J.: 2013, When equal isn’t really equal: The masculine dilemma of seeking work flexibility, Journal of Social Issues 69(2), 303–321. Williams, J.: 2001, Unbending gender: Why family and work conflict and what to do about it, Oxford University Press.

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