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Impact of Shift Length in Policing on Performance, Health, Quality of Life, Sleep, Fatigue, and Extra-Duty Employment, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2012
24 pages
Based on research conducted at two police agencies (Detroit, MI, and Arlington, TX), this study examined the effects of a compressed workweek (CWW) - in which the length of shifts are extended to shorten the number of days required for a 40-hour work week - on the performance, health, safety, quality of life, and extra-duty employment for officers.
The study found no significant differences among the shift-length groups in terms of any of the measures of work performance, safety, or health. The analysis of the composite quality-of-personal-life measure (work-family conflict) also resulted in no significant differences across shift lengths; however, the officers on the 10-hour work shift showed a significantly higher quality of work life compared to the officers on the 8-hour and 12-hour work shifts. Across all shifts, no statistically significant differences were found regarding quality of sleep (rated as "good" for all groups), although the length of sleep time was greatest for the 10-hour shift group. Further, there were no significant differences among the shift groups regarding fatigue and sleep disorders. Although the officers on 10-hour shifts were involved in the least amount of off-duty work, the differences across groups were not statistically significant. Perhaps the most interesting and surprising finding was that officers working 10-hour shifts averaged significantly less overtime per 2-week period than those on 8- and 12-hour shifts. This suggests a potential cost savings for agencies that use CWWs, especially 10-hour shifts. Because the benefits associated with 10-hour shifts - better quality of work life and greater average sleep amount - did not hold for 12-hour shifts (lower levels of alertness and higher levels of sleepiness), the 10-hour shift is the preferred model for a CWW. Future research should examine how to most efficiently implement such a schedule. 44 references

Date Published: January 1, 2012