More and more employees are willing to forego the best offer financially in return for some different types of workplace benefits. Salary is still important, but flexible working conditions continue to rise in importance on employment wish lists. And it’s just not Millennials, although they may be more upfront about how, where and when they want to work. But there’s no question that employees in all age groups want jobs that offer some “flex.”
Earlier, “flextime” was once narrowly defined as variable, daily start and finish times or varying how hours were worked across a week or month, as long as the total met the employers’ criteria. But technology has opened up the flextime definition to include where one works, too. So, alternative arrangements like job sharing and telecommuting also fall under the broad “flextime” banner.
Having flextime gives employees a sense of autonomy in being able to manage their workload according to their own needs, schedules and rhythms. Employers offering flextime often have a big competitive advantage that translates into lower turnover and higher retention. Not surprisingly, flextime and work-life balance are closely aligned.
But whether you’re an employee or employer, flextime may or may not be a good option for you. As an employee, you need to be fairly disciplined and willing to get the job done, even when that means working in the evenings or on weekends. As an employer, your approach plays a big role in the success of a flextime program. Entrepreneur.com offers some great tips:
- Your goals need to be clear, specific and action-oriented.
- Make sure each employee is clear on his or her role, responsibilities and expectations.
- Establish specific communication guidelines.
- Within every flexible arrangement should be a core of regular availability, including some on-site time.
Employer attitudes toward flextime have fluctuated, and recently there’s even been a backlash among some big-name companies like Yahoo!. But don’t be too quick to dismiss flextime as inefficient, costly and just too much trouble, says American Express OPEN president Susan Sobbott, who writes about her own managerial adventures with flextime. Sobbott says that flextime is worth the effort because it can improve retention, hold down costs and boost morale and loyalty to the company. She echoes entrepreneur.com’s sentiments that flextime success is all in the way it’s managed: Clear expectations, total transparency, specific terms and expectations, regular and ongoing communication and frequent feedback should all be part of a flextime program.
NFIB.com says you should make flextime a company policy. Even the concept of “flexible” should be thoroughly defined and not left to individual interpretation. And because no one works entirely as an island, by all means have regular team check-ins to let everyone know who is working on what and how it impacts the other members. And lastly, use multiple communications channels, including phone, email, Skype, internal discussion boards—whatever it takes to get the job done.
Many feel that small businesses are in the best position of any to offer flexible working arrangements. With the competing demands of work and family life, employees are stretched—and stressed—and are looking for ways to manage. CBSNews.com sums up some of the other ways employers can benefit from flextime:
- Employees are more likely to stay put, even passing up other offers.
- It’s way to “reward” employees.
- Better work-life balance makes more productive employees.
- Job satisfaction and at-work happiness increase.
- Medical costs tend to decrease.
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