Content prepared by Workplace Flexibility 2010

Predictability refers to giving workers as much notice of the schedule that they will work as possible, and minimizing changes to schedules after they have been assigned. Many low-wage and hourly workers work unpredictable schedules, with the days, times and number of hours that they work varying on a weekly, or even daily, basis. For example, on a Friday, a worker may be given the work schedule for a workweek beginning on Monday. Workers may also be scheduled to work and then sent home when work is slow.

Predictable work schedules:

  • Provide work schedules with as much advance notice as possible.
  • Minimize changes to work schedules once assigned.

A worker is given 80% of her schedule one month in advance, and told that 20% of her schedule may fluctuate due to changes in consumer demand. (Lambert)

A worker is given her schedule for her regular job duties in advance, but as the day that she is supposed to work draws near, it becomes clear that she is not needed in her regular job because consumer demand has slowed. Rather than changing her schedule, she has been previously cross-trained so that she can perform other needed tasks on the day that she is scheduled to work.


Susan Lambert and Julia Henly are in the process of conducting a Scheduling Intervention Study at a number of store branches of a major retailer located in the City of Chicago. The study design includes providing one month's schedule at a time to employees, rather than the week's notice of schedules formerly provided by the retailer. Following completion of the nine-month pilot of the intervention, a store manager explained that she would continue to provide one month's schedule at a time to her employees because "it is more efficient for me, and my associates like to be able to plan."

Benefits to employee Benefits to employer Challenges
  • Ability to plan child care and other caregiving obligations, transportation, class schedules, and scheduling at a second job.
  • Reduced absences and tardiness.
  • Reduced employee absenteeism and turnover, improved employee morale and engagement.
  • Employers in industries with significant fluctuations in consumer demand and/or just-in-time staffing models may need to maintain some amount of last-minute scheduling to meet business demands.