Flexible scheduling

Flexible scheduling is characterized by worker control over some aspect of their schedule. This flexibility can include self-scheduling of shift work, sometimes used in nursing and manufacturing positions; flex time, where workers set their own start and end times around a core schedule; compressed work weeks, such as working 10 hours a day for four days rather five 8-hour shifts; and partial retirement for older workers.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Improved health outcomes

  • Increased job satisfaction

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved mental health

  • Improved work-life balance

  • Reduced absenteeism

  • Increased productivity

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that flexible scheduling improves employee health (, Nijp 2012) and job satisfaction (Baltes 1999).

Overall, increasing employees’ control over their work schedules improves their health and well-being (Nijp 2012, ). Self-scheduling of shift work has been shown to improve health outcomes such as mental health, blood pressure, and sleep-related outcomes for individuals in a variety of fields, including health care and law enforcement (). Both flex time and compressed work weeks have been shown to improve employee’s job satisfaction, schedule satisfaction (Baltes 1999), and work-life balance (Nijp 2012, ). Flex time can also increase productivity and reduce absenteeism among participating employees (Baltes 1999).

Flexible scheduling options may increase profitability when implemented as part of an employee-centered strategy, but may decrease profitability if implemented to target cost reduction alone (). 

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Flexible scheduling options are implemented, officially and unofficially, by employers in many industries across the country. Government agencies such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have official policies in place outlining available options (US FDA-Worklife).

Implementation Resources

USOPM-Alternative - US Office of Personnel Management (USOPM). Handbook on alternative work schedules.

USOPM-Flex - US Office of Personnel Management (USOPM). Labor-Management Relations: Law and policy resources. Negotiating flexible and compressed work schedules.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Baltes 1999 - Baltes BB, Briggs TE, Huff JW, Wright JA, Neuman GA. Flexible and compressed workweek schedules: A meta-analysis of their effects on work-related criteria. Journal of Applied Psychology. 1999;84(4):496–513.

Bambra 2008* - Bambra C, Whitehead M, Sowden A, Akers J, Petticrew M. “A hard day’s night?” The effects of compressed working week interventions on the health and work-life balance of shift workers: A systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2008;62(9):764–77.

Cochrane-Joyce 2010* - Joyce K, Pabayo R, Critchley JA, Bambra C. Flexible working conditions and their effects on employee health and wellbeing. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;(2):CD008009.

Lee 2012a* - Lee BY, DeVoe SE. Flextime and profitability. Industrial Relations. 2012;51(2):298–316.

Nijp 2012 - Nijp HH, Beckers DG, Geurts SA, Tucker P, Kompier MA. Systematic review on the association between employee worktime control and work-non-work balance, health and well-being, and job-related outcomes. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 2012;38(4):299–313.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

US FDA-Worklife - US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Working at FDA. Quality of worklife.

Date Last Updated

Nov 2, 2013