Each generation brings a different view to the workplace. Whether it is a senior manager on the verge of retirement or a fresh graduate just entering the workforce, businesses today are expanding from a traditional 9:00 am – 5:00 pm workday. Responding to employees' needs such as time off to handle medical issues, care for family members, or pursue higher education, may necessitate a flexible work arrangement outside of using vacation time, sick time, or taking a leave of absence.
How then does an employer respond to the increase in requests from employees who desire alternative work arrangements? Flexible schedules can pose challenges in communication, may not be available to all the employees within the organization, can increase overtime expense and make it difficult to track employee productivity and attendance. However, for employees who need to balance their personal and professional lives, and for employers who need to control costs due to employee turnover, flexible scheduling may be necessary.
Overall, a shift in perception about providing flex time is occurring. Historically, companies focused only on the factors that directly affected the company “bottom line.” Older generations shared that focus and sacrificed their personal lives to achieve that overall goal. Employers are now acknowledging that flexible scheduling may be necessary to accommodate the retiring generations on their way out, as well as the newer generations stepping up the ladder.
A Benefit, Not an Expectation While the benefits may appear clear to the employee, the employer must justify this arrangement as a benefit for the company. One tangible benefit for a company involves employee retention. Giving employees the opportunity to balance work and personal lives can serve both parties; the employee feels valued and the employer reduces the risk of losing an important member of the team.
A less tangible benefit can be measured by a decrease in overhead costs. Employees working flexible schedules can share equipment such as computers, phones and desk space. For industries that accommodate customers in multiple time zones, calls can be responded to for more hours, thus increasing the opportunity to sell and service clients.
Job Sharing Job sharing is a unique work solution for employees and employers. Job sharing is being used as a solution for countless situations; traditional part-time employees are being paired together to complete the same job with rotating shifts, executives are paired to divide and conquer clients, and more. Job sharing can be introduced as a solution where the company demands full-time hours but wants to accommodate a flexible work schedule.
There are three types of a job share accommodations:
1. Sharing responsibility There is no separation of duties. Both parties are interchangeable. This method requires a high degree of cohesiveness between the job share partners and demands excellent communication.
2. Dividing responsibility When work can easily be split into different roles and/or the job share partners do not know each other well, dividing the job is a good option. This method works well when there are multiple clients, tasks or projects that can be split up.
3. Unrelated responsibilities Working with the specific skills of each partner, this job share is more similar to having two part-time employees working in the same department.
Telecommuting Telecommuting is a rapidly evolving option for employers that are looking to reduce overhead costs. Recent improvements in communications technology allow almost anybody to have secure and controlled access to company systems. Many of the solutions put the employee virtually at a “desk” complete with e-mail, phone and voicemail access- all from a remote computer.
Solutions Flexible work arrangements are changing the landscape of businesses. Employers are seeing the benefits of increased productivity, decreased costs, improved morale and reductions in turnover as a result of instituting flextime. More employees are asking for this type of arrangement in order to better balance their work and home lives. The bottom line is that flex time is here to stay, and as the global village continues to shrink, offering flexibility to employees will soon become a necessity for businesses to survive.