Non-Traditional Work Hours and Retention

Posted on April 10, 2012 by Katherine Razzi

The once traditional work week continues to evolve into extended hours and the addition of weekend hours. Organizations are also allowing employees more flexibility in their work schedules by allowing them to start later and leave later or start early and leave early. While these different work schedules can be beneficial in maintain a healthy work-family balance, some of the work schedules can have an impact on the length that employees stay at an organization.

Depending on the individual, non-traditional work hours may or may not create a problem. 63% of employees working non-traditional work hours reported doing so only because of the constraints of the job (Martin, Sinclair, Lelchook, Wittmer, & Charles, 2011). Some jobs, such as healthcare, retail, and law enforcement positions require employees to work on the weekends as well as different shifts.

What are other factors influencing retention? While some employees may not feel that non-traditional work hours are right for them because of the interference with other aspects of their lives, there are employees that enjoy working different schedules. Organizational commitment is a huge factor that often determines whether or not an employee has any intention to leave the organization. An employee may not like the hours he or she works, but if they like the organization, they will likely stay with the organization.

Another factor influencing retention is the quality of alternatives. If I’m a nurse and I have to work shift hours and sometimes I’m working days and other times I’m working nights and I do not like these hours, what are my alternatives? If all other medical offices and hospitals also require nurses to work non-traditional hours, leaving the organization may not help me in any way.

Research by Martin, et al. indicated that employees with standard working hours had longer rates of retention within their organization. Employees with non-traditional hours, regardless of whether or not they perceived opportunities of advancement, had lower levels of retention. Based on this study, non-traditional work hours significantly impacts employee retention rates.

What are your thoughts on non-traditional work hours? Are these schedules good or bad?

Reference: Martin, J., Sinclair, R., Lelchook,A. Wittmer,J., & Charles, K. (2011). Non-standard work schedules and retention in the entry-level hourly workforce. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85, 1-22.


About Katherine Razzi

Katherine Razzi hails from the Midwest and holds a B.A. in Applied Behavioral Science from National-Louis University, Evanston Campus. Coursework in cultural diversity, management, organizational dynamics, morals and ethics, group interaction, and psychology.

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