An employee who requests a flexible work schedule in an environment of cuts and business contraction would have to be pretty brave, or oblivious. Employees who enjoy the benefits of flexible schedules are likely to be nervous. When senior managers are making workforce decisions face time in the office will seem more attractive than working from home or variable schedules.
The benefits of flexible work arrangements have been touted by numerous reports, white papers and studies. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) compiled the results of 31 such studies that identified flexible work hours as contributors towards increased employee productivity and reduced absenteeism. Flexible work arrangements also increase employee loyalty.
In “Flexing, Floundering or ‘Just Fine Thanks’: Work/Life Issues in America,” Life Meets Work and Ask Liz Ryan reported last week that while 77% of their survey respondents offered some flexible work programs very few planned on increasing these programs in response to the economy. Employers think that they are too costly to administer. They are considered a benefit and it’s not a good time to add a benefit.
Flexible work schedules may actually be a great idea to save money and keep really good employees from jumping ship. An employer could respond to a drop in business by asking for volunteers to work a reduced work week. Given the opportunity some employees may also choose a layoff or a personal leave of absence that corresponds to a business lull.
If employees already have flexible arrangements that are working well for the company there is no reason to stop them. It is a good time to ensure that managers understand the parameters of the arrangement and are educated on the benefits. Communicating and not sugarcoating business realities to all employees is essential. Effective employees who telecommute, enjoy compressed workweeks or alternative schedules will make certain that they keep up the quality and quantity of their output.
I will be discussing employer specifics about 4 day workweek in a web conference, “The 4 Day Work Week: Is it Good for Business?” on November 13th. Lori Wadsworth and Rex Facer who conducted the study that was used as a foundation for Working 4 Utah will also be conference presenters. The session will include a variety of perspectives that will help employers whether they are planning flexible work schedules or just thinking about the options.
Do you have success stories about flexible work schedules to share?