Why Flexible Work Schedules are Beneficial for Both Employees and Employers
When discussing benefits that employees crave most, the ability to work a more flexible schedule regularly appears at the top of many wishlists. What’s even better, this improvement can be just as beneficial and positive for employers.
The first thing that comes to mind when talking about a flexible schedule is obviously telecommuting and being able to work from home every now and again. According to a study by FlexJobs conducted last year, 3.9 million employees work from home at least half of the time. That’s 2.9 percent of the entire U.S. workforce.
However, there are many industries in which telecommuting is simply not an option. Many of these industries also happen to be industries that tend to need powerful employee scheduling software like Humanity—healthcare, retail, restaurants, to name a few.
It’s important to remember that telecommuting is not the only type of flexible work schedule option that employers can offer to their staff. Other benefits also help when it comes to retaining employees. Let’s take a look at some of the other options.
Different Types of Flexible Schedules
The definition of what a flexible schedule looks like is actually pretty, well, flexible. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, anything outside the traditional 40-hour, 9-5 workweek is flexible, adding that giving your employees the freedom to arrive and depart from work at varying times is also something that can be considered a flexible schedule.
Other than telecommuting, here are a few of the most common types of flexible work options offered by employers.
Flex-time means that the employer is not particularly concerned about when you arrive at your place of work. In a flex-time situation, the employer requires two things of their employees: to work the standard amount of hours that have been agreed upon and to get all of their work done.
While this type of staff scheduling might be pretty hard to implement in most industries, that certainly doesn’t mean that allowing employees to work their preferred hours is impossible. A good way to offer flex-time in some sense is to allow employees to submit their availability so they can let you know which hours they would prefer to work, if possible.
Employers and managers might not always be able to give employees the shifts they want, but allowing your staff to submit their preferences and giving them their preferred shift times when possible is certainly better than nothing.
When it comes to retaining employees and keeping them happy, sometimes flexibility is the best policy. Situations often arise in which some of your best employees simply can’t commit to working regular, full-time shifts because of other obligations they may have in their personal or work lives.
Allowing them to work part-time just to keep them on board can be an excellent solution, especially if they are great employees. Giving them the opportunity to work more flexible hours and fewer hours for as long as they need can pay off big-time in the long run. You would be retaining employees and allowing them to slowly move back into a full-time position once they are able to do so.
This option is another example that’s similar to flex-time, in the sense that you don’t really care when your employees put their hours in as long as they do so. Sometimes your employees both need time and days off because of other commitments but also don’t want to give up any of their work hours and potentially make less money.
Allowing them to work longer days in order to compress their workweeks can be an excellent option. For example, you can allow an employee to work 10-hour shifts four days a week so that they don’t have to work the fifth day.
It should be noted, however, that compressed workweeks are a good option only when the job at hand isn’t too overwhelming because not everyone can work a 10-hour shift while remaining productive. It’s a common problem in nursing which often leads to burnout and a decrease in the quality of patient care.
So make sure that your employees can handle longer shifts before making this a real option because it won’t benefit anyone if there is a drop off in either, or both, the quality of work and the physical, the mental or emotional well-being of the employee.
Advantages of a Flexible Schedule for Employees
The benefits of a flexible schedule for employees are a lot more evident and easily identifiable than the benefits for employers. There have been numerous studies conducted that have concluded that the benefits to employees are manyfold.
This particular study showed that employees with flexible work schedules exhibited greater job satisfaction because they had more control over their work schedules and a greater feeling of support from their bosses and managers.
Human resources experts are trumpeting the positives of flexible scheduling and urging employers to welcome these types of programs because they have been proven to work.
These are some of the main benefits that employees who have flexible work schedules tend to rave about most often.
Better Work-Life Balance
One of the biggest workforce myths is that everyone is looking for a full-time job and that people hate working part-time. But that isn’t true at all. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than 20 million Americans choose to work part-time jobs and prefer part-time work over full-time employment.
They do so because work-life balance is very important to them. Some have many family obligations that they are juggling with work, some have other passions that they wish to pursue and others simply aren’t interested in committing to one particular job or profession in a full-time capacity.
Work-life balance is especially important to millennials. This survey by Deloitte claims that 16.8 percent of millennials choose their jobs based on the opportunity it presents them for achieving work-life balance. The same study claims that 11 percent of millennials look for flexibility as their top priority when deciding where they want to work.
When employees have a say in when they work it makes it a lot easier for them to find a balance between their personal and work lives that really works for them.
More Development Options
Another thing that the Millennials look for when choosing where they want to work is having the ability to grow and learn while on the job. Companies that offer employee development opportunities always do well when it comes to hiring and retaining younger workers.
Research conducted by The Hartford shows that 50 percent of millennials want to receive training and development from their employers. Even when it’s not offered by their employers, many young workers want to be able to continue learning even when they already have jobs.
Flexible scheduling enables them to do just that. Many workers have classes and courses that they take when they aren’t working. And anyone who was a student at one point knows that you can’t really pick when these classes are being held.
A flexible schedule enables your employees to work around their educational goals, allowing them to maintain a job and continue learning at the same time. Naturally, this is a big win for employers as well, who will be able to retain employees who are determined to learn and improve while on the job.
Greater Sense of Being Valued
Showing your employees that they are appreciated is very important. According to a recent job exodus study, 39 percent of the employees polled stated that not feeling valued was their main reason for wanting to leave their job.
Being valued is something that is important to people not only in the workplace. It’s important in their family situations, in social situations and in just about any type of human relationship.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association also shows that feeling valued at work is very intrinsically linked to an employee’s physical and mental health. The APA survey also finds that people who do not feel valued at work intend to or are already looking for a new job.
Employees who are afforded the ability to work schedules that are more agreeable to them tend to feel more valued by their employers. In turn, they reciprocate by being more loyal to their employers and working harder for them.
When employers allow their employees to have a say in determining their work schedule, they are rewarded for the trust they are exhibiting in their workers.
Physical and mental health are very important to the well-being of your staff and one of the greatest issues with health in the workplace is stress levels. A recent report has shown that the number of people who are reporting greater levels of stress at work is more than three times higher if they are working inflexible hours.
This survey was conducted by the Kenexa High Performance Institute and it shows that 68 percent of people with inflexible schedules report “unreasonable” levels of work stress. In comparison, only 20 percent of respondents with flexible work schedules felt the same way.
Furthermore, the study showed that 59 percent of those with inflexible schedules want to leave their jobs, compared to only 22 percent of those with schedule flexibility.
This leads us to believe that strict hours are sometimes bad for business, simply because they tend to be bad for the well-being of employees. Staff with flexible scheduling tend to be happier and also tend to experience lower levels of stress at the workplace overall.
Advantages of a Flexible Work Schedule for Employers
While the advantages that employees see when they are permitted to work more flexible schedules are fairly clear and obvious, it’s important to remember that granting flexible schedules doesn’t make sense it the needs of your business are not being met.
Thankfully, implementing a sustainable and effective plan for allowing employees work schedule flexibility can have just as many positive effects for managers and business owners. These are some of the most impactful ones:
Increased Employee Morale and Engagement
One of the biggest reasons why so many people desire flexible work schedules is so that they achieve a better balance between their work lives and their personal lives. Doing so is especially hard for hourly workers, who are often students or parents and have a lot of other things on their plates besides work.
If you’re going to recruit this profile of workers successfully, offering schedule flexibility is something that you really need to consider. When employees are able to achieve work-life balance, they are immediately happier and more fulfilled. An increase in employee engagement and an improvement in employee morale means more productive employees. It also means employees that are satisfied with their work situations and are not looking for employment elsewhere.
A meta-study on work-life balance by T. Alexandra Beauregard and Leslie Henry for the London School of Economics and Political Science claims that being able to achieve work-life balance is an indicator to employees that they are being treated favorably by their bosses. This most commonly leads to reciprocating accordingly by showing a greater sense of commitment and productivity.
According to this very recent study published by a Pew Research Center, millennials currently make up 35 percent of the American workforce. More than anything, millennials are looking for flexibility when choosing where they are going to work. It’s not hard to put two and two together – offering flexible schedule options is a perfect recruitment tool for attracting the best workers of this generation.
This study by FlexJobs states that 84 percent of millennials desire to achieve a better work-life balance and 67 percent would prefer a more flexible work schedule so that they could have more time to spend with their families.
Offering schedule flexibility also gives you and your recruiters greater options and creates a greater pool of talent for them to choose from when looking to hire new talent. It’s a very competitive job market today, that’s why being able to offer incentives like flexible hours can be so vital in attracting top talent.
If you clearly state that you are open to and comfortable with hiring people who can only work part-time or require their shifts to be flexible in order to meet the demands of their personal obligations, you are seriously increasing the number of talented people that could potentially be interested in joining your company.
Business owners do not need to be reminded of how important employee retention and how very expensive persistent problems with employee turnover can be.
The more engaged and satisfied your employees are, the less likely they are to seek employment elsewhere and eventually leave your company. As you’ve already seen, multiple, credible studies show that flex workers tend to be much more satisfied and happier than employees who are not offered any type of flexibility in their schedules.
Studies show that even occasional uses of schedule flexibility give employees positive associations with engagement and employers with expected retention, confirming that staff with flexible schedule options are happier and therefore more likely to have a longer tenure with an employer that offers flexible schedule options.
Other studies have shown that for today’s workforce, especially when talking about millennials, there are many factors that are more important to them than money when it comes to staying with a particular company and flexibility is definitely one of them.
Increased productivity is yet another positive side effect that often follows when employee satisfaction and happiness is at a higher level. Another great benefit of offering flexible schedules is that your employees’ stress levels will also go down at work.
All of this combined – employee engagement, happiness, better health – it all culminates in having happier and more productive employees.
When employees don’t have to worry about not being able to meet their obligations outside of work and when they are allowed to work hours that work best for them, they are going to be able to focus on their work and be more productive while they are at work.
Reduced Tardiness and Absenteeism
When employees have a say in when they are working and they are given the opportunity every now and then to plan their schedules around the rest of their lives instead of the other way around, it’s no wonder that they show up and clock in to work shifts on time.
And of course, there’s a study to prove it. This study shows that when employees are given the option of making alternative work arrangements, they will show up for their shifts on time. Giving your employees flexible schedule options significantly reduces the number of unplanned absences and tardiness.
One of the biggest reasons that some employers don’t offer flexible schedules is because they are afraid of their employees acting out. They are afraid of losing control.
Just because your employees are allowed to make their own schedules every now and then doesn’t mean they are going to stop showing up entirely. Generally speaking, it’s an unfounded fear.
In reality, the exact opposite will usually happen. Your employees will respect you more and show you more respect because you have done the same for them.