Flexible scheduling allows employees to control some aspect of their schedule. This can include flex time, where workers set their own start and end times around a core schedule; flex hours, which allows banking of accumulated hours for future time off; compressed work weeks, such as working 10 hours per day for four days rather than five 8-hour shifts; and self-scheduling of shift work, sometimes used in nursing and manufacturing positions. Voluntary reductions in work weeks, such as temporary transitions to part-time or partial retirement for older workers, are also approaches to flexible scheduling1, 2.
Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)
Improved health outcomes
Increased job satisfaction
Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes
Improved mental health
Improved work-life balance
Evidence of Effectiveness
Overall, increasing employees’ control over their work schedules improves well-being3, sense of community2, and happiness5, 6. Self-scheduling of shift work has been shown to improve indicators of physical health, such as blood pressure and heart rate, as well as mental health and sleep-related outcomes for individuals in a variety of fields, including health care and law enforcement2.
Flexible scheduling may increase retention7, 8, 9, improve employee performance, and increase employee commitment1. Flex time has been shown to increase productivity4 and reduce absenteeism4. Flex time and compressed work weeks improve employee job and schedule satisfaction4, 7 and are associated with improved work-life balance3, 7, 10 and reduced stress11. Availability of flex time may increase female labor market participation rates1, and its use may increase life satisfaction for working mothers from dual earning families12. However, some of these benefits may be reduced when workplace expectations include taking work home and being available outside of work hours7. In some cases, flexible scheduling may also increase the likelihood that work and family interfere with each other13, for example, when the scheduling is employer driven rather than employee-centered14. Adopting flexible scheduling for selected workers may lead to decreases in productivity among workers without the benefit15. Flexible scheduling options may increase profitability when implemented as part of an employee-centered strategy, but may decrease profitability if implemented only as a cost reduction strategy16.
Impact on Disparities
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1 Golden 2018 - Golden L, Chung H, Sweet S. Positive and negative application of flexible working time arrangements: Comparing the United States and the EU countries. In: Farndale E, Brewster C, Mayrhofer W, eds. Handbook of Comparative Human Resource Management, Second Edition. 2018.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 Okulicz-Kozaryn 2018* - Okulicz-Kozaryn A, Golden L. Happiness is flextime. Applied Research in Quality of Life. 2018;13(2):355-369.
6 Golden 2013a - Golden L, Henly J, Lambert S. Work schedule flexibility: A contributor to employee happiness? Journal of Social Research and Policy. 2013.
7 Schieman 2017 - Schieman S, Glavin P. Ironic flexibility: When normative role blurring undermines the benefits of schedule control. 2017;58(1):51-71.
8 Caillier 2016* - Caillier JG. Does satisfaction with family-friendly programs reduce turnover? A panel study conducted in US federal agencies. Public Personnel Management. 2016;45(3):284-307.
9 Moen 2011* - Moen P, Kelly EL, Hill R. Does enhancing work-time control and flexibility reduce turnover? A naturally occurring experiment. Social Problems. 2011;58(1):69-98.
10 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.
11 Grzywacz 2008* - Grzywacz JG, Carlson DS, Shulkin S. Schedule flexibility and stress: Linking formal flexible arrangements and perceived flexibility to employee health. Community, Work and Family. 2008;11(2):199-214.
12 Minnotte 2016* - Minnotte KL, Minnotte MC, Thompson K. The life satisfaction of dual-earner mothers and fathers: Does flexible scheduling matter? Journal of Happiness Studies. 2016;17(6):2365-2388.
13 Higgins 2014* - Higgins C, Duxbury L, Julien M. The relationship between work arrangements and work-family conflict. Work. 2014;48(1):69-81.
14 Gerstel 2018* - Gerstel N, Clawson D. Control over time: Employers, workers , and families shaping work schedules. Annual Review of Sociology. 2018;44(9):1-21.
15 Yang 2011* - Yang S, Zheng L. The paradox of de-coupling: A study of flexible work program and workers’ productivity. Social Science Research. 2011;40(1):299-311.
16 Lee 2012a* - Lee BY, DeVoe SE. Flextime and profitability. Industrial Relations. 2012;51(2):298–316.
17 US FDA-Worklife - US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Working at FDA. Quality of worklife.
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