How to Give Employees With Rigid Schedules the Flexibility They Crave

Remote work is the flexibility benefit everyone wants, but what about employers that can’t offer it?

If you’ve surveyed the employee benefits market and walked away feeling like you’re doomed if you don’t offer a full spread of flexibility benefits, like remote work options, you’re not alone.

Many organizations, new to the world of work-life benefits, can’t reconcile the gap between needing employees to work set schedules and accommodating their preference for flexibility.

But not addressing it is a mistake and here is why.

Employees, even those in the most time-rigid industries, want some level of flexibility.

Companies ignoring this fact are missing a significant opportunity to maximize their recruiting and retention efforts.

Consider this: 51% of manufacturing employees want their company to offer flexible work options. Yet only 9% of human resource leaders in manufacturing say flexible working is visibly present in their organization.

This leaves 91% of manufacturers with the opportunity, right now, to wipe up the competition by implementing at least one work-life balance benefit.

This fact, along with many others, is why we’ve put together a list of alternative ways employers in time-rigid industries can give their team members the flexibility they crave.

Flexible Work Hours

Just because you can’t let your employees work their afternoon shift at home or spend the first couple hours of their day logging in remotely from Starbucks doesn’t mean there’s isn’t room for flexibility in your organization. Check out these alternative schedules that are the next best thing to remote work.

Shift Swapping

Giving your employees the freedom to trade shifts with their (suitably qualified) coworkers is a sure-fire way to increase retention and an excellent way to manage time conflicts.

In a survey of retail managers conducted by scheduling technology company WorkJam, 62% said they had sales associates quit due to ongoing scheduling conflicts.

Keep in mind that shift swapping is a lot more effective when coupled with the right technology. In the past, the biggest deterrent to shift swapping was scheduling headaches. Today, there’s software for that!

Check out Paycor’s ultimate guide to creating a shift-swapping policy.

Compressed Workweek

Give employees the option of trading longer workdays for longer weekends. This type of alternative schedule compresses the traditional 35 – 40-hour workweek into four days.

There are several ways for employers to approach this, the most popular being four 10-hour shifts, followed by a three-day weekend.

A good option for occupations with 24-hour shifts like paramedics, nurses and firefighters is a schedule of three 12-hour days with four weekdays off.

Lastly, there’s the 5/4/9 schedule in which employees work eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day for a total of 80 hours, with one day off, in a biweekly pay period. The benefit for employees is three-day weekends every two weeks.

Check out the Society For Human Resource Management’s Flexible Schedule Compressed Workweek Policy Template.

Maximize Your Flexibility Benefits

Maximize the benefits of flexible scheduling with complimentary programs or services that help your employees balance work and life.

Errand Running & Convenience Services

Perks like an employer-funded concierge benefit that reduces work-life friction by providing on-site and off-campus errand running have become an increasingly popular solution for organizations, especially those that aren’t ready or can’t offer flexible work schedules.

This service maximizes employees’ time off by ensuring they won’t spend it on errands and other low priority, but essential, life tasks.

Read more about the benefits of an employee concierge service for employers.

Be Flexible With Time Off

Flexible schedules are great. You know what’s even better? Being flexible with your employees’ time off.

Create a PTO Policy

Giving employees a single bank of time to draw from that includes vacation, personal time and sick time allows them to have more control over their personal lives, which increases work-life balance.

Learn the pitfalls to avoid when moving to a PTO plan.

Floating Holidays

If you have PTO or vacation benefits, add floating holidays to the mix to sweeten the pot. This gives employees a few additional days off throughout the year.

Organizations can take one of two approaches to floating holidays.

  1. Tie floating holidays to a specific date, such as an employee’s birthday or a federal holiday. This requires employees to use their floating holiday on or near the event in which it’s tied to. Tying floating holidays to a specific date ensures they’re treated like a regular paid holiday, particularly in California.  Unlike vacation time and PTO, employees won’t accrue floating holidays, and they aren’t paid out upon termination of employment.
  2. Offer unrestricted floating holidays. Employees can use this time at their own discretion. Some organizations require employees to give advanced notice; others encourage workers to use this time for last-minute schedule conflicts and emergencies. The unrestricted approach subjects floating holidays to the same rules and regulations as vacation days, except that holidays don’t accrue. Most notably, this means employers would need to pay out unused floating holiday time when employment ends.


A lot of things in this world are black and white – flexibility isn’t one of them. Just because you can’t offer remote work doesn’t mean you have nothing to give.

From surgeons and nurses to manufacturers, finance and customer service professionals, many of today’s workers want at least some flexibility, but they’re not getting any.

This gap leaves employers with a significant opportunity to distinguish themselves as an employer of choice by simply offering the right mix of flexibility benefits and complimentary programs or services.