How can long-term sustainable and attractive working hours for healthcare staff be achieved with participatory working time scheduling?


Influence over working hours has previously been shown to be important for well-being among shift workers, who are generally at increased risk of ill health and sleep problems. Within the Swedish healthcare sector, participatory working time scheduling (PWTS) is a common working time model. Within PWTS, employees' working hours are planned based on both employees’ individual shift requests and the workplaces’ needs for competence and staffing. There is a large variety between different workplaces in organisational prerequisites (e.g. production requirements, staffing levels, competence supply) and how the scheduling process is organised (e.g. length of the scheduling period, handling of shift vetoes and vacations).

There is a knowledge gap in how differences in organisational prerequisites and the organisation of the scheduling process affect factors that contribute to long-term sustainable working hours, i.e. working hours that promote health, recovery, patient safety, quality of care and staff retention.

The project is financed by AFA Försäkring.


Purpose of the project

The overall aim of the project is to explore important factors for achieving long-term sustainable and attractive working hours within participatory working time scheduling (PWTS). This knowledge is intended to constitute a basis for future guidelines for the application of PWTS.


Project set-up

The project is divided into two phases that build on each other.

In the first phase, employees, staffing assistants and managers within Swedish healthcare are interviewed about their experiences of the PWTS process. For example, we examine what support that is needed in order to use PWTS in a way that promotes health, recovery and safety, and various aspects of the PWTS process that can affect these factors. In this first phase, interviews are also conducted with representatives from HR departments to map different forms of PWTS that are applied within Swedish healthcare.

In the second phase, we are conducting a survey to explore how different organisational prerequisites and applications of PWTS affect the employees' recovery, health, job satisfaction and actual working hours. The overall goal is to produce new knowledge about how PWTS can be implemented and used in a way that promotes long-term sustainable and attractive working hours that benefit both employees and organisations.


Project status

Until now, we have conducted about 30 interviews with employees, staffing assistants and managers within the framework of phase 1. The interviews with staffing assistants and managers have been analysed and the scientific manuscript is currently waiting to be published.The employee interviews will be analysed during the autumn of 2023.

The data collection within phase 2 is ongoing in collaboration with Västmanland hospital Västerås and Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset. The data collection will end in October 2023. Analyses of the data will be performed during the end of 2023/start of 2024.


Projektet i media (In Swedish)

Efter skiftarbete och obekväm arbetstid: Tid för återhämtning

Experten: Därför behöver skiftarbetare längre vila

Forskaren: Arbetstidsfrågan är ett ständigt arbete


Working in this project

Anna Dahlgren

Majken Epstein

Phillip Tucker

Content reviewer: