Morning bias: To get ahead, set your alarm earlier.

Excerpted from Quartz: “No matter what the boss says about flextime, get to work early”

Being a “morning person” may be more than virtuous. It may literally be a criteria for career success.

Managers rate workers who get an early start higher than those who get in and stay late, no matter how many hours they work in total or how well they do their jobs.

Apparently, managers have a “morning bias” … that confuses starting time with conscientiousness and productivity.



Managers perceive employees who start later as less conscientious, and consequently less hard-working and disciplined, and that carries through to performance ratings.

Here’s the proof …


Researchers surveyed employee/manager pairs, looking at when both the employee and the manager got to work, and how the manager rated the employee’s conscientiousness and performance.

Start times for the employees ranged from 5am to 9:45am, with the average of 8:42.

Even controlling for total time worked and the typical starting times in each workplace, people who started later were rated worse.

In a second experiment, undergraduates from a US university were asked to assume the role of a manager at a fictional company and rate an employee’s job performance. Participants were given identical profiles describing the employee’s performance based on contracts fulfilled, but the time the employee started work was varied.

Late start times led to significantly lower ratings, even though productivity and total hours were exactly the same.


Other research found that workers who adopt flex-time schedules have less successful careers.

Employees who start later, even for a good reason, might be inadvertently hurting their career prospects.


The study had one piece of good news for night owls.

Managers who started later themselves were less likely to show “morning bias” when evaluating employees.

So if you’re a late riser, try to work for a late-rising boss.


Now, go set that alarm clock …


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One Response to “Morning bias: To get ahead, set your alarm earlier.”

  1. Rob Marshall Says:

    As a person who shows up early, I’ve thought about the perceptions you discussed a fair amount. It was always interesting to me. In my experience, if on a given day someone shows up at 8:30 am and leaves at 5:30 pm, that is interpreted as pretty normal in a corporate environment. But if a person shows up at 7:30 am and leaves at 4:30 pm, it raises eyebrows. It’s irrational — the work days are the same length. I suspect there’s something about walking out the door at 4:30 in the afternoon that doesn’t feel right to some managers or colleagues who are on the later arrival/departure schedule.

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