The study by Michael G. Palmer and C. Merle Johnson at Central Michigan University investigated the impact of task clarification and group graphic feedback on the early punch-in times of various staff members at a restaurant sub-franchise. The intervention involved providing clear workplace policy guidelines and weekly graphic feedback on group punch-in times. The results showed a significant reduction in early punch-in minutes from 130 minutes per week during baseline to 62 minutes per week during the intervention. A brief return to baseline conditions led to an increase in early punch-ins to 189 minutes, suggesting the effectiveness of the intervention.
The study aimed to find cost-cutting measures that would not increase employee stress or reduce job satisfaction. Labor costs are a significant part of restaurant expenses, and clocking in early can add to these costs. The intervention was a low-cost solution compared to automated systems that can be expensive for small businesses.
The intervention did not lead to reductions in job satisfaction or increases in stress, based on a survey conducted with the employees. The study used an ABA design and collected data from approximately 40 employees, including waitstaff, cooks, cash register clerks, dishwashers, buffet attendants, and hourly assistant managers. The intervention saved the company an estimated $60 to $75 over 5 weeks, which could translate to larger savings over a year and across multiple locations.
The study concluded that task clarification and group feedback could be an effective and low-cost method for reducing unnecessary labor costs due to early clock-ins without negatively affecting employee morale. However, the study acknowledged limitations such as its application to only one site, the potential influence of the researcher's role in the restaurant, and a short return to baseline period. Future research was suggested to further explore the independent and combined effects of task clarification and feedback, as well as the functional relationship between the intervention and employee behavior.