Hamilton, Edwin E.
“Because there are significant policy implications associated with compressed workweeks in law enforcement, there is a great need for an examination of both current national practices with regard to CWWs [compressed workweeks] in law enforcement, as well as the impact of such schedules on performance and safety, health, quality of life, sleep, fatigue, and extra-duty employment (i.e., overtime and off-duty work). In this report, we aim to address this gap by providing both the results of the first comprehensive, randomized experiment of the effects of shift length in policing, as well as descriptive data on current shift practices and trends” (Executive Summary p. 2). Findings reveal that there are no significant differences between 8-, 10-, and 12-hour shifts in regards to work performance, health, or family-work conflict. Those working 10-shifts did comment that they got more sleep and felt they had a better quality of work life than with an 8-hour shift. Those working 12-hours reported more sleepiness and less alertness than working 8-hours. The 10-hour shift appears to be the best option for agencies wanting to go to a CWW.
While this research focused on policing, the results are applicable to correctional settings. “The Police Foundation experiment was designed to test the impacts of three shift lengths (8-, 10-, and 12-hour) on performance, health, safety, quality of life, sleep, fatigue, alertness, off-duty employment, and overtime among police … The study found some distinct advantages of 10-hour shifts and identified some disadvantages associated with 12-hour shifts that are concerning. It is important that agencies implement strategies and policies that are evidence based, and the findings of this study provide important information for law enforcement leaders and other policy makers to consider when examining both the most efficient and effective practices for their agency, as well as the safety and quality of life of their personnel and the public they serve.” The following resources can be found here: podcasts regarding the Shift Length Experiment; “The Shift Length Experiment: What We Know About 8-, 10-, and 12-Hour Shifts in Policing” by Karen L. Amendola, David Weisburd, Edwin E. Hamilton, Greg Jones, and Meghan Slipka; “An Experimental Study of Compressed Work Schedules in Policing: Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Shift Lengths” by Amendola, Weisburd, Hamilton, Jones, and Slipka; “The Impact of Shift Length in Policing on Performance, Health, Quality of Life, Sleep, Fatigue, and Extra-Duty Employment” by Amendola, Weisburd, Hamilton, Jones, and Slipka; “Trends in Shift Length: Results of a Random National Survey of Police Agencies by Amendola, Slipka, Hamilton, and Michael Soeberg; and “Law Enforcement Shift Schedules: Results of a 2005 Random National Survey of Police Agencies” by Amendola, Hamilton, and Laura A. Wyckoff.