How difficult is it to offer flexible scheduling to your employee — and if you offer it, does it pay off?
Advocates say it provides an affordable solution for keeping employees happy without sacrificing productivity or profits. It can also extend your service hours and rein in overtime costs as certain employees voluntarily work later, perhaps maximizing productivity of workers who function best as “night people” or “morning people.” It could even cut medical costs by reducing employee stress and burnout. Positive outcomes most frequently reported by employers in 2015 research by Workplacetrends.com were employee satisfaction (87 percent), productivity (71 percent) and retention of current talent (65 percent). Sixty-nine percent said they used the benefit as a recruiting tool.
The biggest question for employers? Whether it has a real downside. The Workplacetrends.com research showed employers’ most prevalent concerns were employee abuse of the system (42 percent), a sense flextime isn’t part of company culture (40 percent) and employee fairness (34 percent).
The truth is, the system likely won’t work at every company. It may cause workers to miss customer issues, important group training and/or meetings; allow for unsupervised employees who abuse company policy or just don’t work well independently; or keep staffers from forming a sense of camaraderie with co-workers.
That said, in the Workplacetrends.com study, 75 percent of employees called workplace flexibility their most important benefit. And it’s increasingly considered best practice; one 2014 study found 86 percent of those on Fortune’s 100 “Best Companies to Work For” offer some kind of flexible scheduling, including working from home at least once per week.
If you decide to move forward, the National Federation of Independent Businesses recommends setting some mandatory core hours, clearly describing the rules to your staff, investing in employee time tracking devices and project management software, and continuing to plan regular all-team events.
“In a difficult economy, flexible work arrangements are a triple win, allowing organizations to cut payroll costs without large-scale staff reductions, boost employee morale, and retain top talent so the firm can quickly gear up for new business when the economy turns around,” notes Sylvia Ann Hewlett in Forbes.