In the never-ending quest to find novel, practical ways to improve employee engagement and reduce turnover, companies across the U.S. have started implementing flexible scheduling practices. According to research from MIT, employees who participated in MIT’s flexible scheduling initiative said they felt:
- More control over their schedules.
- More support from their bosses.
- More likely to say they had enough time to spend with their families.
- Increased job satisfaction and were less burned out and less stressed.
- Less psychological distress, which captures depressive symptoms that do not amount to clinical depression.
It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it!
In fact, the number of U.S. workers working from home on occasion increased from 9% 20 years ago to 37% today—and it is projected to increase even more in the next decade. So, the question is, should your company pursue flexible scheduling? And if so, what are some best practices to follow?
Employer Best Practices For Flexible Scheduling
Perhaps one of the most important things—if not the most important thing—is to determine if flexible scheduling is actually compatible with your company’s overall goals and business plan. For many companies, flexible scheduling is a great benefit for the employee and, once implemented and codified, isn’t a drain on the employer. However, some business aren’t suited for flexible scheduling.
Identifying where your company sits on that spectrum is the first step you should take. Your leadership team should meet to discuss this in multiple meetings, and they should take into account business goals, employee feedback, and other pertinent information to see if flex scheduling should be offered.
Not every employee position can or should be offered flexible scheduling, and clearly deciding on what those roles are and making it clear within the organization is of utmost importance.
2. Have a written policy in your employee handbook (and update it as needed).
No matter what you decide about flexible scheduling, it needs to be written down in as much detail as possible in your employee handbook. By taking this step, you’ll be able to refer to the issue whenever it arises and “prove” why your business makes certain choices.
You should review and update this policy at least annually to make sure it’s still accurate and doesn’t need to be updated. It should also be available to all employees at all times.
3. Create a core schedule that works for the employer’s goals first.
Establish some guidelines for your organization that aren’t negotiable—decide what you will allow and won’t allow for your flexible scheduling, and write it down. This will serve as your benchmark as you work on objective number four, below.
A worker must work 40 hours per week and be present on a daily basis during “core hours” (e.g., from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm), and may, for example,
- adjust arrival and departure times as he/she wishes on a daily basis, or
- define new standard work hours (e.g., a set schedule of 7:00 am to 3:00 pm every day or of 7:00 am to 3:00 pm on Tues/Thurs and 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Mon/Wed/Fri).
4. Offer a variety of flexible work schedules for the various segments and demographics within their workforce.
If your company does decide that flexible scheduling can work, you should take the time to see how it can work best for you and your employees within the guidelines you set forth in objective three. Flexible scheduling is not one-size-fits all: Not everyone needs to work four long days a week in order to get Fridays off or have an allotment of time they can work from home.
Establish baseline procedures, but then see if they are actually helpful for your employees or if there’s another flexible schedule that may work better (and produce better results for you). And make sure you record what your decisions are and then keep tabs on employee performance to make sure their work is getting done well.
5. Don’t skimp on offering other benefits.
One flexible scheduling best practice you can’t forget—make sure you’re offering other benefits in addition to flexible schedule. Generous vacation, sick, bereavement, and personal leave programs to should be offered in addition to flexible work; remember, your employees are still working (just on different schedules).
Need help figuring out flexible scheduling at your company?
If you’re just beginning to investigate whether or not flexible scheduling is something to institute at your company, you probably have a lot of questions. We can help! Just contact us today to set up a time to speak with our experts—we can help you think through the process and whether or not flex schedules could make your workplace even better.