Can we prompt managers to publish schedules sooner?

In-product messaging
Experiment Type
Field Experiment
Find additional employment, Increase income
Increase earnings
Focus Areas
Marketing & messaging
Behavioral Concepts
Friction Social proof
Partner Type

What Happened

It worked. While the template itself served as a strong tool for managers, adding both social elements (informing managers of other companies' scheduling habits) and overdue cues led to the highest increase in early schedule posting.

Lessons Learned

The scheduling template alone, which reduced friction in posting schedules, led to 33% of managers posting their schedules at least a week ahead of time. Additionally, adding social proof and overdue cues was shown to be the strongest method in getting more managers to post sooner.


Managing finances and planning for the future is difficult for people working jobs with schedules – and income – that regularly change from one week to the next. A 2016 survey found that more than a third of LMI households experienced some degree of income volatility over the last six-month period. While variable schedules are hard enough to manage, this task is made even more difficult because people often receive their new schedules on short notice.

In fact, past research found that around 40% of hourly and early-career workers received their work schedules less than a week in advance. Such short notice makes consistently meeting work commitments challenging because workers must scramble to find childcare and transportation, further affecting their income. Unpredictable schedules also increase stress and impose other, indirect costs as well, for example when workers are unable to schedule health appointments.

We partnered with Homebase to find ways to increase notice time, making planning for the future a little easier. Homebase works with thousands of businesses, particularly in industries where most workers are hourly and have variable schedules. Homebase helps businesses manage scheduling and allows workers to view their hours, trade shifts, and request covers. By making changes to the scheduling software, Homebase potentially can influence when managers publish schedules and, therefore, how much advanced notice employees have before their next shifts.

Key Insights

We started by analyzing existing administrative data and by examining the platform from the perspective of the employers, detailing the process that they go through to set and publish schedules. Our initial analyses confirmed that employees generally receive less than one week in advance notice of their work schedules. We also identified two barriers that we believe particularly inform how employers set up new schedules:

  • The process of setting up a new schedule is burdensome for a lot of employers. When a process is complicated or has lots of friction, people generally put off completing the task.

  • Employers do not have any cues or established norms about the right amount of notice to give employees in advance notice. In addition to reducing the friction of creating a new schedule, we felt that employers would publish schedules with more lead time if they had timely cues and more salient norms around schedule publishing.


To overcome these barriers, we worked with Homebase to design a schedule “template” and incorporated several types of context cues. We hypothesized that schedule templates make it easier for employers to set schedules, increasing how many were published with one or more weeks’ notice. We also believed that that giving employers cues around setting schedules would strengthen that effect.

A sample of companies at Homebase were randomly split into four groups. All four treatment conditions received a message to copy an existing schedule to a new work week. In Condition 2, companies were also recommended to publish schedules two weeks in advance. In Conditions 3 and 4, companies were told that similar companies typically publish schedules two weeks in advance. Companies in Condition 4 were also told if they had unpublished work schedules that were overdue with respect to the two-week deadline.


From May through July, 5,963 locations across 3,645 companies participated in the study. Just having access to a schedule template led to 33% of schedules being initially published with at least a week’s notice.

The template, a new Homebase feature, may have improved publishing times, but confirming its effect was not possible due to seasonality and existing trends showing that employers have increasingly been publishing work schedules with more notice time anyways.

However, adding cues or social proof messaging significantly increased the percentages of schedules that were initially published with at least a week’s notice compared to employers that just had access to the basic template. After adjusting for schedules that were published more than once because changes were made to the schedule, the Social Proof + Overdue messaging performed better than all the other conditions.

Using the template plus the additional messaging meant that about 1,300 more employees were given a week or more notice for the scheduled shifts.