A recent survey by QuickBooks asked 1,000 employees which incentive would motivate them most. They could receive more money, more PTO, more *anything*.
And out of all of those possibilities, there was a resounding call for one thing: a flexible work schedule. As in, 760 people out of the 1,000 who participated in that survey said their number one incentive for motivation would be a flexible working schedule. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year 57 percent of workers in the US had one- 42 million worked from home on a consistent basis, while 36 million worked from home as needed.
But flexible schedules aren’t available every office, and if yours is behind the times- it could cost you some valuable workers.
Flex schedule defined According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a flexible schedule is any alternative to the standard 9 to 5 workweek. So in some cases, it might mean allowing your employees to pick when they’ll be in the office for their 40-hour workweek. In other cases, they could choose their own hours as long as the work gets done.
It’s better for everyone Flex schedules are all about creating a work-life balance, which gives your employees the flexibility to do their job while keeping everything under control at home. In a tight labor market (like the one we find ourselves in today) it’s critical that hiring pros pay attention to what employees want. Like we said in our intro- it’s not money. In an article published by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), they state that 80 percent of people in the workforce say they feel more loyalty toward employers who value a work-life balance (up from 78 percent in 2018).
And that makes a lot of sense, right? Work isn’t the only thing (or the most important thing) that’s happening in anyone’s life. The more you as a hiring professional can do to make your work hours coincide with what’s going on in your workers’ lives, the happier they’ll be to do the work. Plus, it’s been found that a flex schedule results in higher energy levels, better sleep, and healthier people in your workplace.
Employers also benefit, saving an average of $11,000 per year with the lower cost of office space and utilities, along with the benefit of having happy employees (which means less turnover).
But there are some disadvantages Obviously if everyone has a flex work schedule, it’s more difficult to hold in-office meetings. These would have to be planned in advance if you want all your employees to be there in person. Using a flexible schedule means that, as a manager, your style is hands-off. You’re instilling trust in your employees, which can make them feel more obligated to ensure their work gets done. Also, embracing remote meetings via myriad online tools can be just as productive.
Use careful judgement though, because while most people are empowered by a flexible arrangement, there are some who don’t work as well without being supervised constantly with strict hours. In these situations, we suggest starting out slow. Allow one day a week where your workers can hang out in their home offices, given the freedom (and trust) to get their work done on their own time. Monitor how that goes, and grant more or restrict “Work from Home” hours as needed.
Different types of flex schedules There are a ton of different kinds, and it’s up to you to figure out what makes sense for your employees and your company. The most common is the regular flex schedule, which allows the employee to choose his or her 40 hours during the week. So if someone you work with has a baby and their daycare opens at 9, they can come into the office at 10 and work until 6.
There’s also something called a compressed workweek. That one allows your workers to do all their hours in four days, which means they work longer hours per day. But the tradeoff is a three day weekend, or perhaps a Wednesday break.
The most flexible work schedules are daily flex schedules, which let employees choose their own hours each day as long as they get their work done. This one requires the most trust from leadership and management level, and typically there’s a secondary system in place to enforce productivity. You can even use a program for the office, and ask each employee to put their project start and finish times into it.
Make it work Some employees are willing to take a paycut to work from home. What? Yes- a 2019 State of Remote Work Report published by Owl Labs found that 34 percent of workers would be willing to take a 5 percent pay cut, while 24 percent would take a 10 percent cut. However, we recommend using that as a sign to show how much employees enjoy flexible working arrangements versus adjusting employee salary downward to make it happen.
Is that something you’re considering? This is what you’ll need to do.
First, set the terms of the flex schedule in writing. Is there a specific number of hours that you need your employees to work? Do they need to report to the office at certain times on specific days? Do they need to be working during certain core hours, even if they’re not working from the office? Do you need to give a specific number of hours’ notice if you need them in the office if there’s going to be an unexpected meeting?
Since your team won’t necessarily be in the office at the same time, it’s going to be more difficult to have authentic relationships. As a hiring professional, you’re going to have to work a little harder at this. Plan on scheduling team-building activities, regular in-office meetings, and open office hours to discuss any issues that may arise. And like we said, if this is a new concept to your office, take it slow. You can do flex Fridays or a three-month trial flex period.
It’s all flexible.