Everything HR

How Employers Can Be Flexible with Flex Time

June 15, 2017

An employee approaches you and asks whether they can work through their lunch to leave early. Another employee says they want to work most of their 35 hours in the first half of the week to be able to take a class on Thursdays. A tenured employee wants to discuss working from home a few days a week to spend less time commuting. These are all examples of flexible work arrangements. Flexibility in the workplace is proving to be an HR trend that won't go away anytime soon. Employers in droves seem to be adopting “flex work” policies—or alternative arrangements to the traditional workweek—in order to meet employees' needs.

Studies suggest that flex work offers more benefits than drawbacks, demonstrating a range of advantages like improved work–life balance, increased job satisfaction, and reduced costs associated with absenteeism and turnover. Yet many organizations hesitate to offer flexible work arrangements to their employees. HRdownloads conducted a poll to shed some light on current practices, concerns, and ideas surrounding flexible work arrangements. The results of that poll provide a glimpse into a broad cross-section of our clients across Canada, from companies with fewer than 25 employees to those with more than 500 employees.

If your organization is reluctant to implement a flexible work program because of concerns that the program won’t succeed, you’re not alone. The results from last month’s poll reveal that many respondents have concerns both before and after implementing flex work programs. Both employers who have enacted flex time arrangements and those who haven’t share many of the same concerns. A full 26 percent of all respondents (both those who have flexible work arrangements and those who don’t) listed treating all employees equally as a concern, while difficulties with staff supervision (22 percent) and employee abuse of the system (18 percent) were close behind. Yet, almost 44 percent of the respondents who reported that they have a flex work program noted their previous concerns were unfounded—there were no big issues after implementing the program.

Some other key findings include:

  • 54% of all respondents have flex work programs.
  • 60% of organizations that said they have flex work programs are small businesses (fewer than 50 employees).
  • 65% of the organizations that reported they do not have flex work programs have more than 50 employees.

As mentioned, the results revealed a trend that although employers had the same concerns initially going into their flex time programs, the concerns proved to be mostly unfounded once flexible work arrangements were put in place. Several studies show that flex work carries a stigma that employees will become unproductive. Many respondents who don’t have flex work programs shared that concern (approximately 45 percent of respondents); however, the majority of respondents with a formal program identified no changes to productivity after the program was implemented (approximately 76 percent).

It’s important to remember that there isn’t one way to successfully implement or manage flexible work arrangements. A strong attendance management policy, in addition to a flex time policy, and individual agreements with your employees can help ensure that processes are fair, consistent, and considerate of your organization’s needs.

So how can your organization implement or improve a successful flex time program? Download our FREE Introduction to Flex Time Guide for practical suggestions.

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