Flex Schedules: A Better Way to Work

27
Jul,2016

Retaining employees is a priority for our clients. There are many strategies circulating to ensure employee retention, but we want to discuss one in detail: flexible hours.

We can attest to how popular this is at Staff Smart, Inc. (yes, we eat our own cooking!). When managed properly, a flexible work hour policy is both low cost and high impact. Here’s a look at why it’s becoming an essential company benefit.

What is a Flex Work Schedule?

According to the Department of Labor, “A flexible work schedule is an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour work week. It allows employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times. Under some policies, employees must work a prescribed number of hours a pay period and be present during a daily “core time.” The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not address flexible work schedules. Alternative work arrangements such as flexible work schedules are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee’s representative).”

The DOL has published numerous reports on the topic, releasing data that over 25% of workers are already working a flex hour schedule, and that number is increasing.

Remove The Stigma

Despite their popularity, participation rates in flex work schedules can be low. An Ernst & Young survey found that one in 10 workers have “suffered a negative consequence as a result of having a flexible work schedule.” That may be due to the outdated perception that time spent in the office correlates with dependability and overall performance.

In contrast to this negative perception, studies conducted by University of Minnesota and MIT suggest that when workers have “control over their own schedules, it results in lower levels of stress, psychological distress, burnout, and higher job satisfaction.”

How can managers help diminish the stigma around flex schedules? By setting an example and taking flex time themselves.

Improve Productivity with Flex Work Schedules

Flex work schedules can combat on-the-job fatigue that often decreases productivity.

Fact: Employees will leave a good job with a long commute for a new job with a short commute. Address that pain-point head on with discretionary flex hours. Some companies will allow employees to work from home every other Friday during the summer. Other companies allot up to 10% a week to work on a personal hobby that furthers their professional development. You can go big or small as long as you start somewhere!

 

Infographic on Flex Time Schedules

Infographic courtesy of Office Principles

Millennials Love Flex Time

Nearing 75.4 million as of 2016 (Pew Research), Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce. Future-proof your businesses by appealing to Millennials who thrive on an integrated work/life balance. In an Ernst & Young study, Millennials, globally, are more likely than other generations to say it is important to receive paid parental leave, onsite or subsidized child care and be able to telecommute 1-2 days a week. Millennnials tend to blur the lines between work and life, closely identifying with their company brand which they view as an extension of their own personal brand.

Legislation Protects Work/Life Balance

There are a number of state and federal laws that protect employees who need to take (unpaid) time-off for dependent care and childcare/school-related activities that occur during regular work hours. Employees must be able to take the time off without experiencing the flex time stigma.

Labor Code Section 230.8: Family-School Partnership Act

This California law allows parents, grandparents, and guardians to take time off from work to participate in their children’s school or child care activities. The law first took effect in 1995. Its provisions were expanded in 1997 to add licensed child day care facilities to the kindergarten-through-grade-twelve levels included in the original legislation.

SB 579 : New Protections for Employees Taking Time Off for Child Care and Kin Care

This new law creates new protections for employees taking time off work for child care and kin care. Previously, employers with 25 or more employees working in the same place were prohibited from discriminating against an employee parent for taking time off up to 40 hours per year for participating in school activities at a licensed child day care facility, kindergarten or grades one through 12. The new law allows employees to take time off work to: (1) address a child care provider emergency, (2) address a school emergency, or (3) enroll or re-enroll a child in a school or with a child care provider. The new law updates the definition of a “parent” from parent, grandparent and guardian to now include stepparent, foster parent or a person who stands in loco parentis to a child.

 

This toolkit from SHRM provides guidance on how employers can comply with family and medical leave in California.

The Bottom Line

Employees associate a flexible work schedule with a flexible, high-trust management policy. This creates an environment where they feel valued, and makes them happier and better engaged over the long-term.

 


 

Sources

The Death of the 9-to-5: Why We’ll All Work Flexible Schedules Soon, Muse.com

Study Highlights: People Want Flexibility, Ernst & Young

Does a Flexibility/Support Organizational Initiative Improve High-Tech Employees’ Well-Being? Evidence from the Work, Family, and Health Network, ASR

How to Create A Winning Employee Retention Strategy, Entrepeneur.com

How To Improve Employee Retention, CIO 


About The R&R Series

In our commitment to providing innovative businesses with valuable insights, we’ve launched a series of articles on Recruitment & Retention (R&R), which go hand-in-hand. Employee retention is directly correlated with employee engagement, which Gallup defines as those who feel “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work.” Research shows that employees place happiness on par with money. When offered the prospect of a 20% raise at another company, Gallup showed that 54% of disengaged employees would consider leaving, versus 37% of engaged employees. As the demands of day to day operations dominate the employer/employee relationship, it’s important to see the big picture and ask, How am I showing my employees that I value them? In our recent post on Early Onboarding, we broke down steps to welcoming a new hire before their start date. Find valuable strategies on our blog including preboarding, onboarding, offboarding and the first step to retention: recruiting.

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