Back in the day, the primary determining factor for a candidate choosing your company over your competitors’ was salary. Nowadays, the tide is turning toward the employee benefits your company offers; specifically, flexible work arrangements. In fact, FlexJobs 2018 Annual Survey found that the top three factors today’s candidates look for in a job are:
- Work-life Balance
- Flexible Work Options
Companies that offer flexible work arrangements reap big rewards, from access to top talent to increased retention rates. Enabling employees to work from home on a regular basis can also boost overhead cost savings when you’re not required to maintain office space for everyone. You’ll likely see improved attendance and productivity, as well as increased employee engagement when employees’ work days are more fluid, allowing them more freedom than that of a full-time position tethered to an office chair.
Offering a flexible work schedule to your employees is a highly appreciated perk. It gives them a greater say over their work schedules, so they can efficiently balance their work and family obligations.
According to a study conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (Flexible Work Arrangements), 94% of employers surveyed said they provide some sort of flexible scheduling for their employees.
The most popular types of flex time are:
- Flexible hours for special situations (i.e. sick child or school event)
- Flexible workday start and quit times
The least popular flexible work arrangements included
- Seasonal Employment (32%)
- Summer Work Hours (32%)
- Job Sharing (19%)
But a flex time arrangement can also have its downsides. For example, when you have a distributed workforce, your business can be challenged by a lack of connection among team members. And when a team member works from home, lines between work life and home life will often blur causing managers to question employee productivity and actual hours worked. So, is it for your company? Let’s start with a few questions and considerations:
- Have your employees asked for flexible hours?
- Are your employees self-directed?
- If you implement flex scheduling, could you possibly run the risk of discrimination claims?
- Have you carefully outlined the logistics of your flexible work schedule?
- Would your business see any benefits from employing a flexible work arrangement?
If they have, carefully think through the potential implications. If your entire work environment is one that operates on shifts or requires a hands-on presence, of course, such scheduling wouldn’t work for you. But if your employees primarily work on computers (data entry, programming or technical writing, etc.) some flexibility in scheduling, compressed work weeks, or remote work for certain periods of time could be appropriate. For example, allowing employees to get to work at 9:00 and leave at 4:00 can help them avoid rush hour and improve their work/life balance and stress levels. Listen to your employees’ requests and see if it makes sense to implement a more generous policy.
If they have difficulties completing their job requirements when they’re actually in the office, they sure won’t be successful working remotely. And a lot of people really enjoy the camaraderie of the office making a remote role isolating and unmotivating for them. It’s important to consider everyone in the company on a case-by-case basis rather than creating a blanket policy. And that leads us to the next question.
As an example, you can’t have a policy offering flexible working arrangements to parents only. If you have a flexible work schedule, you’re required to apply the policy across the board (where it makes sense) so you don’t discriminate against protected groups.
It’s important that you have a formal written policy in your employee handbook that notes the details of the program, such as when employees must be in the office for meetings. You should also determine the hours employees should be available and accessible during the work day. Be sure to have your employees sign the policy to acknowledge that they will abide by the rules of the program. You should also specifically note that the flexible work arrangement is conducted on a trial basis and employees may be asked to return to an in-office schedule if it’s deemed that the flex work program isn’t working out with them.
If company expansion has resulted in people being packed in like sardines, a telecommute policy for certain employees can eliminate the need for relocating to a bigger space.
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