Flextime as a Solution to Enhance Employee Satisfaction,
But How Does it Affect Productivity?
The 9-5 workday has been around for a hundred years or more. But 21st century lifestyles are putting pressure on employers to accommodate employees' personal schedules. Telecommuting, job-sharing, and flextime are becoming increasingly popular offerings that help increase employee satisfaction. But how does anything get done? And how does such an unstructured job environment affect control.
Schedule Flexibility as an Employee Benefit
Sue's mother needs to visit the physical therapist three times a week from 9-10am. Aoki has one more class to take to complete his Bachelor's degree, but it meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4pm. Jonathan is a single dad whose daughter arrives home from first grade at 3:30pm. The demands of today's lifestyles can affect the stress levels of your employees. Even if they're working, they may be thinking about family and other activities.
Offering a flexible work schedule, "flextime" allows these employees to work on their own schedules. The key is making them accountable to put in the allotted number of hours, or better yet, to achieve clearly stated objectives.
Employers and Society Benefit from Flextime
A happy worker is a productive worker, someone once said. But is that true? According to Ricardo Semler in his book The Seven-Day Weekend, since implementing a flextime schedule his company's annual revenue has soared from $35 million to $212 million over a six-year period.
Additionally, flextime may allow employers to save money on overhead. If two associates work opposite and complementary schedules on one job, also known as "job sharing", there is only one desk, one chair, and one phone for two employees.
Some employees may choose to work early morning hours while others might prefer late evening hours. If this fits your business model, it may allow you to provide extended customer service across multiple time zones without officially having several shifts of workers.
Employers also know that attracting top-quality workers in a competitive market may necessitate expensive benefit packages. Flextime could be seen as a high-value benefit which costs the employer virtually nothing.
And since some workers may choose to work four 10-hour days, there's one less car on the road that fifth day – which means a little less traffic congestion and a little less air pollution.
How to Implement Flextime
Implementing flextime in your organization starts with determining the feasibility. Obviously, if you are running an assembly line or your product or service requires that all team members be present at the same time, then flextime won't work for these jobs. For retail or manufacturing jobs, flextime might simply be impossible. But, if it does fit your business model and processes, then flextime needs to be codified. Create new guidelines and objectives by which to measure employee effectiveness.
Rather than measuring their effort by hours worked, quantify their goals based on organizational objectives. If you have a goal of selling 200 boxes, for example, what difference does it make if your salesperson hits the target in 20 hours or 40 hours? What difference
does it make if she works from 6am-2pm instead of 9am-5pm and still exceeds her quota?
It may take a while for your workforce to learn the operational self-discipline to focus on the target rather than the clock. For some managers, this learning curve is rather anxiety-inducing. Over time, as everyone develops a sense of self-determination, you'll see productivity rise.
Flextime as a Trend, Not a Fad
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 30% of American workers said they were on some kind of flexible work schedule. As more employees desire a flexible schedule and as technology evolves, managers are increasingly comfortable that flexibility and control are not mutually exclusive. With telecommuting and teleconferencing, among other technologies, flextime and remote workers can still stay connected to the team.
And as companies become more global and as consumers increasingly expect 24/7 service, especially due to the internet, allowing your employees to have flexible schedules, then flextime becomes a necessity to compete in this 21st-century marketplace.
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