A strong case may be made for incorporating a flex time policy in your place of business. Among the most tangible potential benefits are decreased rates of absenteeism, a greater degree of employee engagement, and a sense among your team that they have a more satisfying balance in their professional and personal lives.
Assuming you decide to move forward with a flex time program in your business, what steps are necessary for effective implementation – both on your part and among the HR professionals in your organization? Here are key elements to keep in mind:
Have a plan. Jumping into flex time arrangements for employees without a clear-cut strategy can leave the workplace vulnerable to confusion over schedules, potential feelings of resentment, missed project deadlines, etc. It's essential to frame your program around specific strategic goals. This means determining beforehand which positions best lend themselves to a flex time schedule and/or telecommuting, and which positions (i.e., customer-facing jobs) are best left as-is.
Clarify expectations regarding flex time performance standards. To help avoid some of the potential issues listed above, it's necessary for employees to fully understand what's expected of them in a flex time position. Together with managers, outline what work is expected to be completed on a daily or weekly basis. Determine specific hours when the employee will be working.
Ongoing communications between employees and managers – as well as between employees and their co-workers – is critically important for making an employee flex time policy work.
Flex time policies can be a key differentiator in recruitment and retention efforts. But taking the time to create a clear-cut strategy and effectively implement a policy are critical.
Require active HR involvement. HR's role in effective implementation can't be overestimated. HR professionals can help the organization adapt to the changes that can come with having a flex time policy. An employee who works traditional hours every day may resent employees who are allotted a flex time schedule, while a manager who's short-staffed may view the organization's flexible work-hour arrangement as a hindrance to productivity. In such cases, your HR team can interact with potentially disgruntled team members, including management, and outline how the new flex time policy can actually benefit the organization and enhance productivity.
Formalize flex time policies in your employee handbook. The HR team can also be instrumental in drafting what goes into your employee handbook regarding flex time policies. Key points may include:
- A certain period of full-time employment being required before a flexible work schedule may be considered.
- Approval of flex time requests will be made on an individual basis.
- Possible flexible work schedules must be discussed with an employee's manager before a formal request is considered.
- HR and related managers reserve the right to deny flex time requests if a department (and the company) would be adversely affected.
Arrange for a trial period. Prior to companywide implementation, consider having a trial period wherein one department, or selected group of employees, undertake flexible work schedules. Determine metrics to keep in mind when measuring how well the program works, specifically with respect to completion of projects, quality of customer service, and overall employee morale. If all goes well, the flex time policy can be considered for expansion throughout the organization.
Businesses that actively support a flex time program often see a key differentiator in their recruitment efforts. As Paychex HR consultant Chris Jankus notes, "Numerous employee surveys report that flex time policies improve work/life balance, which promotes employee health and well-being. This is something new job candidates often regard as a high priority in their search for the right job position."