How Schedule Flexibility Affects Job Applications

33 Pages Posted: 2 May 2022 Last revised: 12 Dec 2022

Date Written: April 2, 2022


Struggling to attract talent, companies are scrambling to offer schedule flexibility. Analyzing data from more than 44 million job-application decisions across occupations and companies from a major job-search platform, we investigate how offering or requiring worktime flexibility affects worker attraction. Consistent with behavioral and organizational theory, we find that the value of schedule flexibility depends on job type: Offering it increases application likelihood significantly for temporary jobs but much less for permanent jobs. And the offering can backfire, with effects varying widely by occupation. Moreover, workers exhibit aversion to employers' scheduling flexibility, whereby workers are required to work at the managers' will, which decreases application likelihood. Our findings offer insights for managers deciding when to offer discretion and contribute to the policy debate about government regulation of work schedules; the traditional fixed schedule may well be what many workers want.

Keywords: Schedules, discretion, flexible work arrangements, incentives, talent strategy, human capital, econometric analysis, empirical research, platforms

JEL Classification: J22, J24, M12, M5

Suggested Citation

Ibanez, Maria, How Schedule Flexibility Affects Job Applications (April 2, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Maria Ibanez (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States


Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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