March 20, 2020

Using flextime and creative scheduling to better support employees in uncertain times

Our own Interim Chief Human Resource Officer Kristi Kelly shares how flexible working arrangements and creative scheduling can help to support employees, maintain morale, and keep productivity high.

Managing in times of uncertainty can be stressful. During these times, employee stress levels and competing work and personal priorities can make it challenging to remain focused on the job.


Our job as people and Human Resource leaders is to help support employees and leaders and keep them focused and motivated. Equally important is maintaining team morale during these times. Research shows that manager support is a key factor in successfully retaining talent and navigating uncertainty. One way we can influence this is to address work conflicts such as unplanned childcare issues, school closings, needing to care for a sick loved one, etc.


Here are some ideas that you may consider for your employees should they need additional flexibility in their work schedule.



Flextime lets an employee vary when their workday begins or ends.

  • Consider varying start and end times. Set a range that work will begin between 8 am - 10 am. Instead of a set 9 am - 5 pm shift. This allows additional flexibility for an employee to alter their schedule based on what is needed that day.
  • You may set a schedule that begins earlier or ends later than normal core working hours to accommodate for other priorities for example 6 am - 2 pm or 10 am - 6 pm.
  • Customized flextime lets the employee and manager create a schedule that is tailored to meet their specific needs. Scheduled work time may vary by the day. For example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday the employee works 6 am - 2 pm but on Tuesday and Thursday they work 12 pm - 6 pm.
  • Schedule-swapping is an arrangement between co-workers that allows them to exchange schedules with another employees who performs the same job. For example, if an employee needs to leave work earlier to take a child or family member to a doctor’s appointment, they may swap schedules for the day with a colleague who starts work earlier than do.
  • You can also designate a set number of hours of work to be completed each week but not set a schedule. This allows the employee to manage their time and schedule around other priorities without adhering to a fixed schedule.

One key benefit of flextime is that it provides better work-life balance for employees. Particularly in times of uncertainty or crisis, employees may have conflicts or considerations in their personal lives that can easily be accommodated with flextime. Unlike part-time work, flextime does not affect income because the employee remains working the same number of hours.

As well, providing flexible work arrangements during stressful periods can go a long way in building strong relationships with your employees, retaining your talent, positively influencing engagement and increasing morale, which should be top-of-mind for people and HR leaders as they manage through a crisis.


Split day

This means working part of a shift early in the morning and the other part later in the evening. However, this type of arrangement may not be ideal for roles that require coverage of core business hours. An arrangement of this type might look like a start of 6 am – 10 am and 2 pm - 6 pm.

One benefit of a split shift is it allows an employee to attend to personal obligations like grocery shopping during the day when these locations are less busy. It also allows time to split at home childcare duties between two working spouses.


Modified work weeks

With modified work weeks, a work schedule can be modified to work on alternative days of the week. Instead of Monday through Friday, it could be Saturday through Wednesday. Human Resource leaders should always refer to local employment standards that may be applicable in this case.  


Compressed workweek

A compressed workweek means working a full-time schedule in fewer than five days per week or fewer than 10 days in a two-week period. This kind of arrangement can give employees blocks of time off without a loss in pay. Human Resource leaders should check local employment standards that may be applicable to this type of arrangement or may limit the number of hours an employee can work in a day or in a week.


Temporary part-time work

Temporary part-time work enables an employee to remain employed but with a reduced number of hours they are scheduled to work. This can involve working fewer hours per day or fewer days per week.

Some of these options may work better than others depending on the role, necessity of operating during core hours and local legislative requirements.

Times of crisis and uncertainty require agility, and it’s important that people and Human Resource professionals understand their roles as leaders in employee resilience. I encourage all leaders and employees to work together to develop creative ways to maintain productivity and drive engagement while meeting the increasing flexibility needs of employees who may have been impacted by COVID-19.   


Read all of Ceridian’s COVID-19 communications and updates at COVID-19 Central.

Kristi Kelly

Kristi is Ceridian’s VP of Workplace Experience, with 20+ years of extensive experience in Human Resources, helping organizations navigate through change and crisis comes naturally. Prior to joining Ceridian 12 years ago, she managed HR in a variety of sectors including manufacturing, financial services, technology, and non-profit. Kristi is a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University where she earned a B.A. in Human and Organizational Development and Psychology and M.A. in Leadership and Organizations. When not at work, Kristi enjoys running after her two small children, skiing, tennis, and passionately cheering (okay, screaming) for her favorite hockey team.

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