A recent study is overturning romanticized notions of entrepreneurs burning the midnight oil and workers coming and going at all hours of the day. New research indicates that more stable work schedules lead to increased productivity and sales, challenging the popular assumption that schedule flexibility is a benefit to the individual and the business.
Researchers partnered with the Gap to determine the impact stable schedules could make for the business. The study found that stable schedules produced a high ROI, increasing median sales by 7% and labor productivity by 5%.
“To date, what we find is that the move to more stable schedules improved retention among workers with more seniority who have greater knowledge of products and processes,” said study co-author Susan Lambert. “This helps explain the productivity boost.”
For small business owners on a tight budget, this is excellent news. Taking the time to build predictable schedules for employees can improve the bottom line with no incremental costs—no wage raises or additional hours of payroll necessary. “The results suggest that employers can improve work schedules in hourly jobs and also meet their business goals,” said Lambert.
This study adds to the pile of research confirming predictable schedules and stable hours cultivate employee engagement and performance.
Gallup found that companies experience a 240% boost in performance when they successfully engage both their customers and employees. As of last year, only 21% of surveyed staff reported being full engaged at work, meaning 79% of the workforce might show up to the job, but they’re not performing at their maximum capabilities.
Entrepreneurs flying solo can find similar boosts in productivity by adding more structure to the workday. Flexible hours are a huge perk of the entrepreneur dream, but research shows that consistent sleep, exercise, and nutrition lead to improved performance.
Although this study was performed on retail workers, the benefits translate to all small business owners and entrepreneurs. Leaders can improve productivity and engagement, both personally and for their employees, by prioritizing schedule stability over flexibility.