Flex Time: Current Trends and Policies for Your Business
What's your company policy regarding flex time for employees? If you don't have established policies, your business could be falling behind the rest of the marketplace.
Businesses large and small have recognized that demanding schedules from their employees is a no-win proposition. Not only does this approach rarely increase productivity, employees putting in extended hours often make more work-related mistakes and tend to be prone to health issues caused by stress and burnout.
However, implementing a flexible work policy may dramatically reduce rates of absenteeism. A flex time option may also positively impact recruitment and retention efforts - an important consideration for both growing and established businesses. For example, it could make your business more attractive to job candidates for whom an inflexible work schedule is a "non-starter."
The flex time bandwagon
Many large companies have begun allowing flexible work arrangements and increasing the amount of paid time off offered to their employees. According to Fox News Health, the 100 best companies in the U.S. offer an average of eight weeks of paid maternity leave, "as well as flex time, telecommuting and other benefits."
As much as one-quarter of the American workforce "receives no paid vacation or paid holiday leave whatsoever," notes Thomas C. Frohlich of 24/7 Wall St. But times are changing, Frohlich reports, adding that a change in thinking about paid leave "is part of a broad re-evaluation of corporate priorities." He lists seven major companies that now offer unlimited vacation time, including General Electric, Netflix, LinkedIn, Virgin Group, and Hubspot.
In traditional vacation policies, employees generally accrue vacation time during the year or begin a year with a bank of available vacation days. If an employee departs before that vacation time is used, the business typically pays out the unused time. Companies who offer employees unlimited vacation time may benefit from not having to carry any liability for unused vacation time.
Tips for implementing flexible time policies
While many smaller businesses are slow to adopt flexible work-time policies, more are looking closely at how to adjust employee work schedules in order to gain more productivity and reduce turnover. Options include a shortened work-week (four days a week, for example, instead of five), a compressed work week (four longer days for full-time compensation), flex time for on-site hours, and job-sharing, where two people share responsibility for one job.
If you're thinking about a flexible time option, consider taking the following actions:
- Offer a "use or it lose it" vacation time program, where permitted by state law, rather than permitting employees to carry unused days over from one year to the next.
- Ask employees to submit a written description of how a flexible work schedule will achieve the same objectives as their current schedule.
- Consider offering flexible schedules on a trial basis so you can assess the impact before committing to a long-term changes.
Flex time isn't necessarily the answer for every small business. But as it becomes more important to your pool of current and potential employees, it's worth examining your HR policies to see where a change is possible that may benefit both your business and your employees.