How Do Flexible Work Schedules Impact Retention?

Shiftboard | September 12, 2019

How Do Flexible Work Schedules Impact Retention?

If you knew the secret to increase both productivity and retention of your hourly workforce, would you be willing to make any changes necessary to achieve it? If this secret also helped your hourly employees feel more job satisfaction and pride in the work to be done, would it be worth the effort for your company?

At Shiftboard, we have a secret that may change the way your business operates. That secret?

Flexible work schedules.

That’s right, when it comes to discussing potential work opportunities and expanding your talent pool during the hiring process, salary and benefits are no longer the biggest things people are worried about.

In our 2019 State of the Hourly Worker report, we dove deep into the minds of over 2,000 hourly workers to find out their desires and needs when it comes to their work schedules. In our first post in this series, we discussed the key drivers of employee turnover and took a look at the basic psychology behind the needs of hourly employees.

Today we are going to take a deeper look at those needs and discuss why the hourly work schedule has become even more important than pay and benefits.


How Does Scheduling Affect Work-Life Balance?

When we applied famous psychologist Maslow’s principles to the workplace, we discovered the hourly employee hierarchy of needs begins with the work schedule. This need is a key driver in hourly worker retention and is even more important than pay. While pay may be a short-term motivator, the fact is, it doesn’t allow your employees the time off they want to be with their families, go on vacation, or take a mental health day. The best way to retain your hourly employee workforce is to give them the schedule they need to attain work-life balance.

Scheduling is a universal problem, but that doesn’t mean there is one solution that will fit every organization or employee’s definition of flexibility. In fact, everyone’s idea of work-life balance varies. Some of your employees may be looking to maximize income by working as many hours as possible, while others want to work specified times and days. According to our survey:

  • 49 percent of hourly employees are willing to take a pay cut in exchange for more control over their schedules
  • 55 percent say they will leave their jobs if they lack control over scheduling
  • 89 percent of people would prefer to work longer days in order to have more time off between shifts

And the differences in views on overtime vary too.

  • 88 percent said they wanted to have the option of working overtime hours for more pay
  • 78 percent said they wanted a set number of hours without overtime being a job requirement
  • 93 percent said they would be willing to work overtime but didn’t want to be required to do so

Thus, we see that while scheduling consistency is an important factor to hourly employees, scheduling flexibility is equally important. But how does flexibility affect the bottom line of your company?

In a 2018 study performed by Susan Lambert, a professor at the University of Chicago, it was found that when the Gap clothing chain stabilized its employee schedules, the company saw a 5 percent increase in employee productivity and a 7 percent increase in sales.


Should Employees Be Involved in Decisions Regarding Scheduling?

How could changing your schedule to fit both the needs of the employees and the company benefit your production and sales?

While it is almost impossible to make everyone happy with a work schedule, involving employees in the process and ensuring they understand the how and why behind decisions will help with your retention efforts.

In our survey, 77 percent of hourly employees stated that work-life balance was a necessary factor to feel satisfied in their job. In fact, it even ranked higher than being paid well (66 percent), having a good working relationship with their boss (64 percent), working in a convenient location (62 percent), or doing tasks or projects they enjoy (58 percent). Helping these employees understand the schedule and accommodating requests when possible will not only aid in your retention efforts but also help them have the work-life balance they crave.


History 101: When Did the Standard 40-Hour Workweek Begin?

Now let’s take a look at the history behind the 40-hour workweek. Disputes over labor, workweeks—and possibly even scheduling—date back to the 1890s when the government first began tracking employee hours. At the time, it was customary to be working 100+ hours per week. In 1926, Henry Ford and his team adopted a 5-day, 40-hour workweek believing that this schedule would allow employees to be more productive at the factory while giving them ample opportunities to live life as they saw fit. That later became the standard American workweek according to the Fair Labor Standards Act adopted 14 years later, in 1940.

Today’s economy is seeing more demand for a flexible work schedule. The U.S. Department of Labor defines the flexible schedule as “an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour workweek.” The department further explains, “It allows employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times. Under some policies, employees must work a prescribed number of hours a pay period and be present during a daily ‘core time.’”


Work Schedules: What Do Employees Really Want?

Now that you know the “secret” to increase both productivity and retention of your hourly workforce, what will you do with it? Learn more about flexible schedules and retention in the video below.

How to Schedule Employees Effectively: Video


In the next post, we discuss exactly what hourly employees want in their schedule, and how you can accommodate them.