By Nancy Andersen
More time to enjoy the good weather and spend with family: That’s what employees want now that summer’s here, according to a recent OfficeTeam survey. Forty-one percent of employees interviewed for the survey said they’d appreciate the opportunity to work a flexible schedule during the summer months, while 28 percent said they’d like to be able to leave early on Fridays.
Employers are getting the message: 75 percent of human resources managers interviewed for the same survey said their company offers flexible schedules in the summertime, and 63 percent indicated that workers are allowed to take off part of every Friday.
Why? It’s relatively inexpensive a way to recognize workers, especially if the company isn’t in a position to provide bonuses or other monetary rewards. Moreover, alternate work schedules can be an effective tool for attracting and retaining talent.
There are other benefits, too. For one, workers who can come in early or late don’t have to commute during peak traffic times. That means they tend to be less stressed when they arrive to work and less likely to suffer from burnout and unplanned absences. In addition, employees who can schedule their work hours around family obligations or personal matters can better focus on work while they’re in the office because they’re not worrying about how and when they’ll get everything else done.
As long as they won’t interfere with productivity or negatively impact clients or customers, flexible summer schedules can make a difference for your employees and for your company. If you think alternate schedules make sense for your organization, now’s the time to consider implementing a program to put them in place.
Tips to follow
Here are some tips on how best to manage flexible scheduling at your company:
•Put communication at the top of the list. If some employees are allowed to work flexible schedules, and others aren’t, the ones who can’t take advantage of the program can grow resentful and might start to think that management is playing favorites. But flexible schedules may not work for every position; in some cases, there’s a business reason certain employees need to be in the office at set times.
Customer service representatives, for example, may need to be on hand during peak hours to handle customer inquiries. So before implementing flexible schedules, make sure everyone knows who’s eligible and why. If certain workers aren’t eligible, can you offer alternate perks?
•Try it out with a trial run. Test the waters with a pilot program before you roll out full-fledged flexible scheduling. Ask interested employees to participate in a short trial of the program so you can evaluate its impact. Check in often with workers on alternate schedules and others who might feel the effects of the scheduling changes. If issues arise, you may need to make adjustments to the program or even reconsider whether it’s right for your company.
•Plan ahead. Sometimes, urgent projects or emergency meetings come up when employees on flex schedules aren’t in the office. That doesn’t mean that these workers can’t be lend a hand remotely or sit in on the meeting via conference call, though.
In fact, all employees on flexible schedules should provide their team with alternate contact information, like a cell phone number, where they can be reached if something comes up outside their regular hours. Managers should also make sure that employees on alternate schedules understand that they may occasionally be asked to work during their off hours.
•But be ready, in case of an emergency. No matter how well you plan, there will be times when employees on flexible schedules simply aren’t available, even in an emergency. To be prepared for that possibility, cross-train workers on several jobs so they can step into a different role if necessary. Also share important project updates with others on staff so assignments can move forward if necessary.
•Lead by example. If their supervisor occasionally works alternate hours, employees will feel more comfortable taking advantage of flexible schedules. So show your support for these options by utilizing them yourself.
Giving workers the option to work alternate hours during the summer can boost to morale because it can help them achieve better work/life balance. If your company offers this option and manages it right, you can enjoy the increased productivity that happy workers deliver.
Nancy Andersen is a division director for Robert Half International in Jacksonville. OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half International, is the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 315 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.