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Shifting Perspective: How your organization can approach Shift Differentials in Workday

Shifting Perspective: How your organization can approach Shift Differentials in Workday

Shift differentials and their policies come in many shapes and sizes. Requirements can be dictated by various sources such as union contracts, government legislation, and company policy. Clearly understanding how shift differentials are defined by your organization, what options are available to you in Workday, and who is responsible for maintaining them, will allow you to determine the best approach to meet your requirements.

Most of this blog will detail how to meet the most common shift differential requirements and the options that will lead to a successful solution. This first scenario is focused on how to support shift differentials that are based solely on an employee’s hours worked and when they occur on any given day. 

Following Workday’s terminology, this is how shift differentials are calculated. Workday’s delivered shift differential Time Calculation Type is used to identify hours worked between two different specified times in the day:

  • Shift Start Time = 11pm
  • Shift End Time = 7am

Using this Workday delivered Time Calculation Type, hours can be calculated and tagged appropriately in order to be paid. Eventually paying the hours, whether via Workday Payroll or a 3rd party payroll provider, is the most common “why” for configuring a shift differential solution in Workday. This Time Calculation Type is perfect for supporting shift differentials that should be paid based on an employee’s worked hours. By using Time Calculation Groups with Time Tracking Eligibility Rules, shift differential calculations can be applied to the correct group of employees. For example:

  • USA Hourly Employees in the Dallas Location should receive Night Shift for hours worked between 11pm and 7am

Although the first approach may fit your needs well, there are other common practices that require additional design consideration. One of those practices is to rely on shift assignments to grant the correct shift differential to employees. Rather than relying solely on hours worked to define which hours are calculated as shift differential, this approach depends also on a shift assignment. The design of the supporting configuration in the assignment process often has a direct impact on future configuration maintenance and end-user experience. Critical questions to ask for the shift assignment process are:

How frequently do employee shifts change?”


Who is responsible for shift assignments?”

The frequency of the shift change will help determine the best method to capture the assignment. A less frequent change in shift allows for a more static worker-based field to be used, such as the Work Shift field. Whereas a more frequent and potential mid-week change in shift assignment warrants using a more dynamic field. A Work Schedule Calendar assignment can be a great method for capturing more frequent shift changes. In contrast to worker-based fields, like Work Shift, a Work Schedule Calendar can be assigned using a unique business process, the Assign Work Schedule business process. This allows for more control over who is granted access to initiate and approve the assignments.

Maintenance should always be considered when introducing a configuration-dependent process or condition rule, and that includes the shift assignment process. Using my example from earlier, more static fields such as Work Shift can be easily referenced from the Worker business object in Time Tracking eligibility rules and calculated fields. Whereas a more frequently changing list of Work Schedule Calendars has the potential to create a maintenance nightmare. Consider using indirect references in the eligibility rule and calculated fields to avoid issues down the road. For example, instead of the Work Schedule Calendar, reference the Work Schedule Calendar Group and allow any new Work Schedule Calendars in those groups to automatically fall into the existing configuration.

When taking the shift assignment approach, it’s worth noting that it can work in tandem with Workday’s delivered shift differential calculations or on its own. When working with shift differential calculations, both the assignment and the hours worked requirements can be configured to be necessary for the worker to earn the shift differential. Alternatively, the assignment alone can provide a shift differential for all hours worked and/or time off while assigned this shift. This can be configured using a Time Block Conditional calculation and calculated fields to identify the assigned shift on any given day.

Any combination of these design options will allow your organization to meet (almost) all the shift differential policies that you choose to support in your Workday environment. Asking the right questions about your organization’s shift differentials will lead to confidence in policy compliance, low-maintenance solutions, and lasting success in your shift differential solution.


  • Drew Ranahan

    Drew Ranahan has been in the Workday ecosystem for nearly 8 years. He has a Workday implementation background with experience in HCM, Absence Management, Time Tracking, and Projects and is a former member of the Workday Time Tracking Product Lead program.

    Drew joined Kognitiv in the summer of 2021 as a Principal Business Consultant and his passion for helping fellow Kognitiv consultants and clients succeed has found him now in a Client Services Manager position with the organization. Workday has taken him all over the US, but he is now based out of Dallas, TX.

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