Hourly Workers Want Flexibility. Here’s How to Give It.

Three out of four workers say that work-life balance is the most critical aspect of job satisfaction.

June 06, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Forty-two percent of workers say that lack of flexibility in their schedules made them more likely to leave their job, according to Shiftboard’s recent report “The State of the Hourly Worker.”

According to the report, there are three scheduling strategies that managers of hourly workers should use to improve retention, worker engagement and job satisfaction: supporting work-life balance; scheduling communication and transparency; and adapting to the needs and preferences of diverse workers.

Three out of four workers say that work-life balance is the most critical aspect of job satisfaction. Employers should offer more flexible scheduling options to support this, according to Jennifer Kline Shernoff, vice president of customer experience and marketing at Shiftboard.

“This approach is about empowering workers to communicate their scheduling preferences and make changes as needed to address work-life conflicts,” Shernoff wrote in a recent article. “It’s also about giving workers the ability to find alternatives to cover their regular shifts, like trading shifts with a trusted colleague.”

The report found that more than half of hourly workers surveyed reported that the inability to influence their schedules caused them stress and frustration. Hourly employees also said that an inflexible work schedule caused the same level of stress as other typical work stressors, such as commuting, relationships with their managers and pay.

“Our findings suggest that by providing employees more influence over their work schedule, employers can help their workers manage stress levels that contribute to turnover rates,” wrote Shernoff.

Shernoff says that employers should increase the frequency of communication, and one way to do this is through mobile technology, especially since 81% of workers prefer having mobile access to their work schedule.

“Employers can use digital tools to allow employees to make scheduling changes and communicate with them easily. And the convenience of viewing upcoming work schedules from home allows employees to plan ahead for their week so they can make time for personal events,” wrote Shernoff. “Plus, everyone can access the same information at once, helping reduce scheduling confusion.”

The report also found that understanding the needs and challenges of different groups of hourly workers is crucial to developing effective scheduling strategies.

For younger people in the workforce, a higher value is placed on workplace flexibility than their older coworkers. Fifty-five percent of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials prioritize having influence over their work schedule, compared to only 42% of Gen X and 37% of Baby Boomers. Additionally, Millenials and Gen Z are more likely to value the ability to pick up overtime hours rather than accept extra time off.

“By developing an adaptive approach to scheduling, employers can take a significant step in providing their hourly workers the support they need to be more empowered, more engaged and more satisfied in their jobs,” wrote Shernoff.