Should You Offer Flextime to Your Employees?
For almost a century, the typical work schedule for majority of workers has involved working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week. This work schedule was introduced by reformist Robert Owen and was first implemented by the likes of The Ford Motor Company.
For decades, this was the optimal working schedule in most industries.
Over the last two decades, however, employees and employers alike have started realizing that this working schedule does not fit with modern lifestyles and modern working practices.
The 9 to 5 workday assumes that all employees have similar schedules.
However, in today’s world where both professional and personal life has become a lot more demanding, it is impossible to have a one-size-fits-all working schedule for all employees.
Some employees have aspects of their personal lives that clash with the 9 to 5 working hours.
For instance, workers with young children might need time to drop off or pick their children from school or day care, while those with elderly parents might need time to drop and pick their parents from elder care facilities or provide some assistance with their daily care.
Such activities eat into the 9 to 5 work day.
Aside from personal obligations, some employees also have other reasons why the 9 to 5 workday does not work well for them. For instance, those who want to advance their careers might need time to attend classes.
Others might need time because they have a second job. In addition, the need to avoid time-consuming rush hour traffic jams might require workers to adjust their working schedules.
Such reasons have led to the rise of flextime, a new approach to the working schedule that allows employees to have flexible working schedules. Over the last one decade, this new approach to working time has been gaining a lot of popularity.
A survey of executives in marketing and advertising found out that more than three quarters of companies in the marketing and advertising industry offer some form of flexible work arrangement.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans also conducted a survey which found that 94% of employers in the US allow some form of flexible working arrangement for their employees.
And according to a 2017 study by FlexJobs, about 3.9 million employees, or roughly 3% of the entire US workforce are allowed to work remotely at least 50% of the time. All these reports point to the growing popularity of a flexible working arrangement.
WHAT IS FLEXTIME?
Flextime is basically a working arrangement that allows employees to customize their working schedule to fit their needs rather than being forced to stick to the standard 9 to 5 working hours.
With flextime, an employer is not too much concerned with the time employees get to or leave their place of work, provided they work for the agreed number of hours each work day, and provided they get their work done.
For instance, if employees are required to work eight hours every day, one employee can arrive to work at 9 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m., another can arrive at 7 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m., while yet another employee can arrive at 10 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m.
With such an arrangement, employees are able to work for the requisite number of hours while still having time to meet their other obligations.
For instance, an employee who needs to attend classes in the evening can come to work earlier and leave earlier, while an employee who doesn’t want to deal with the rush hour traffic can get to work a bit late, when the morning traffic has reduced, and leave the office a bit late, after the evening traffic has reduced.
Being a fairly new approach to working schedules, there are no hard rules on what flextime should cover.
In addition to the type of flextime discussed above, where employees arrive and leave at a time of their own choosing provided they work the standard number of hours, there are several other approaches.
For instance, some employers allow their employees to work an extra two hours from Monday through Thursday so that they can take their Fridays off.
This also referred to as a compressed work week. With work becoming more dependent on computers, mobile devices, and the internet, some employers are also allowing their employees to telecommute/work from home on certain days of the week.
In addition to there being no hard rules on what flextime should include or not, there are also no laws mandating employers to offer flextime to their employers.
Instead, it is up to the employer to decide whether they want to offer flextime to their employers, the employees to which the flextime applies, and the kind of flextime they are willing to give to their employees.
While flextime is gaining a lot of popularity, especially among startups, a number of employers are yet to embrace this new way of doing business.
For someone who is used to the standard 9 to 5, seeing your employees arriving and leaving the office at different times of the day can seem like allowing chaos to thrive in your business.
So, should you offer flextime to your employees? Does flextime offer any benefits, or is just another baseless fad that millennials have brought with them to the workplace?
ADVANTAGES OF FLEXTIME FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES
For most companies, flextime is used as an employment perk to attract and retain talent without spending a lot of money.
This is because the benefits of flextime are most visible and identifiable for employees compared to employers. Various studies have shown that flextime has several benefits for employees.
Improved Work-Life Balance
Over the last few decades, the importance of a healthy work-life balance has gained a lot of prominence, and more employees today are looking for jobs that leave them with enough time to spend with their families, focus on their hobbies and work on their side hustles.
According to reports by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20 million of Americans prefer part-time jobs to full-time jobs.
This is because, for these Americans, a healthy work-life balance is one of the most important aspects of a job.
Work-life balance is particularly important to millennials, who make up the largest generation in the workforce today. According to a survey by Deloitte, more than 16% of millennials look at the possibility of having a healthy work life balance when choosing a job.
In addition, the same survey reports that flexibility is a top concern for 11% of millennials when choosing where they want to work.
Yet another study reports that millennials are willing to take a pay cut if it means they will have a better work-life balance.
Clearly, work life balance is a crucial factor for today’s workers, and the good thing is that offering flextime can help your workers have a better work-life balance.
With flextime, they can customize their working schedule in a way that they still have enough time to dedicate to their personal obligations.
Greater Job Satisfaction
Offering flextime to your employees is a way of showing them appreciation and giving them freedom and autonomy within their job role. It shows that you value who they are as individuals and are concerned about their personal priorities and their personal wellbeing.
It also shows that you trust them to make the right decisions and get their work done without having to dictate what time they get to or leave the office.
This makes employees feel more valued and more connected to their jobs, which increases their job satisfaction.
According to this survey, which polled over 3000 workers, employees who are allowed to telecommute are two times more likely to be satisfied with their jobs compared to employees who are not allowed to telecommute.
Another study by the American Sociology Association also found that employees who are offered flextime are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs because they feel supported by their bosses, and because they have greater control over their working schedule.
More Opportunities for Development
Millennials are quite ambitious, and before taking any job, they want the assurance that the job will provide them with opportunities to learn and grow.
According to a survey by the Hartford, over half of millennials want to work for companies that will offer them training and development.
This is why companies that offer opportunities for training and development are highly successful when it comes to attracting, hiring and retaining millennial workers.
Even in cases where an employer does not offer opportunities for training and development, millennial workers still want to be able to continue learning and improving their skills.
Offering flextime makes it possible for your young employees to continue learning while working. The ability to customize their working schedule means that they can still clock in their required working hours and still find time to attend classes.
As a bonus, you – the employer – will also have the benefit of retaining employees who are committed to learning and improving their skills while still working.
Employees Feel Valued
The key to getting the most from your employees is to show them that they are valued and appreciated. Feeling unappreciated and unvalued is one of the greatest reasons why employees quit their jobs.
Actually, 76% of employees who feel unvalued at their current place of work are actively looking for other job opportunities.
The need to feel valued is something that is intrinsic to human beings. People will walk out of any relationships where they don’t feel valued.
Aside from increasing the likelihood of your employees looking for other job opportunities, feeling unvalued has also been shown to increase the likelihood of employees suffering from physical and mental health issues, according to a study carried out by the American Psychological Association.
Giving your employees the freedom to customize their working schedules based on their individual needs makes them feel valued. It shows that you care about them beyond what they do for your company.
When they feel valued, your employees will in turn work harder and are more likely to remain working for you for longer.
Better Health, Less Stress, and Reduced Risk of Burnout
Your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing is very important. When your employees are both physically and mentally healthy, they will be more productive, since they don’t have to waste time on doctor’s visits and sick leaves. I know you might be wondering how flextime is related to your employee’s physical and mental health.
The greatest cause of health problems at the workplace is stress. The higher the levels of stress, the more likely your employees are to suffer a myriad of health issues. The levels of stress, in turn, are closely linked with your employees’ working schedules.
According to a survey carried out by the Kenexa High Performance Institute, employees are more likely to be stressed when they have inflexible work schedules.
According to the report, 68% of workers whose schedules are inflexible reported experiencing “unreasonable” levels of stress, compared to only 20% of workers whose schedules are flexible.
The takeaway from this is that by enforcing strict working hours, you might be increasing the likelihood of your employees experiencing various health issues, something that makes them less productive in the long run.
Offering flextime to your employees reduces their risk of suffering from stress because it allows them to avoid some of the causes of workplace stress. For instance, one of the sources of stress for workers is commuting.
Commuting has even been christened “the stress that doesn’t pay.”
The stress experienced during the morning commute it carried over to the workplace, thereby impacting the employee’s productivity and their interaction with colleagues.
When employees are offered flextime, they are able to make adjustments to reduce or completely avoid some of the sources of stress.
For instance, in the example above, the employee can opt to leave home a little bit later, which means they don’t have to deal with the madness of rush hour traffic.
This in turn means less stress, less likelihood of suffering from health issues related to stress, and higher productivity.
ADVANTAGES OF FLEXTIME FOR EMPLOYERS
I mentioned above that the benefits of flextime are most visible and identifiable for employees compared to employers.
However, this is not to say that employers do not reap any benefits from offering flextime to their employees.
When implemented properly, flextime can also have huge benefits for employers and business owners.
Some of the benefits of flextime for employers include:
Enhanced Employee Engagement and Morale
We have already seen that flextime allows employees to have a better work-life balance, makes them feel valued and appreciated, and at the same time gives them the time they need to handle other obligations besides work.
Such employees feel that they are being treated fairly by their bosses, and as a result, they reciprocate by being more engaged and committed in their work.
The enhanced employee engagement and morale translates into greater profits for your company.
Actually, a study by Forbes shows that high employee engagement can increase your profits by 21% or more.
At a time when employers are losing between $450 and $550 billion per year due to employee disengagement, offering flextime to your employees can be an inexpensive way of boosting employee engagement and morale.
Today, millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, and are expected to make up for over half of the entire U.S. workforce within the next two years.
We have already seen that one of the things a lot of millennials are looking for when choosing where to work is flexibility.
Therefore, it makes sense that offering flextime options can make it very easy for your company to attract some of the best millennial talent.
In addition to attracting some of the best millennial talent, offering flextime also gives you access to a larger pool of talent to choose from when recruiting.
The current job market is quite competitive, and the bigger the pool of talent you have accessible to you, the easier it becomes for you and your recruiters.
With the gig economy also gaining a lot of popularity, some of the best talent might not be looking to commit to full-time job positions.
By offering flextime, you are opening up your company to attract even those who are looking for part-time positions or flexible working schedules that allow them to focus on their other pursuits.
Employee retention is very important, especially considering how expensive it is to replace an employee. According to Whatishumanresource.com, it costs about $3700 to replace a minimum wage employee.
This is a lot of money, and therefore, as an employer, you want to reduce employee turnover as much as possible.
One of the best ways to reduce employee turnover is to ensure that your employees are engaged, appreciated, and satisfied with their job. The more satisfied, engaged and appreciated your employees are, the less likely they are to be actively looking for other job opportunities.
We have also seen that offering flextime can help with these three factors. Employees who are allowed to work flexible schedules are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to be engaged at work, and they are more likely to feel appreciated.
Therefore, by offering flextime, you can improve your employee retention without incurring any additional costs.
Remember, for most millennials, flexibility is among one of the factors that are even more important than money when it comes to determining whether they will stick with your company.
Many of the benefits of flextime for employees, such as improved work-life balance, increased morale and engagement, less stress and increased job satisfaction also have the bonus effect of making your employees happier and more productive.
With a flexible working schedule, employees do not have to worry about neglecting their other obligations outside work, they are able to customize their day in a way that allows them to avoid the causes of stress, and so on.
This in turn makes it easier for them to focus on their work, allowing them to be more productive.
Several studies have shown that having a flexible working schedule makes workers more productive.
For instance, a poll of Canadian businesses by the Bank of Montreal found that over half of companies that allowed their employees to work remotely – one of the forms of flexible working arrangements – saw an increase in employee productivity.
Flextime also helps combat presenteeism, which refers to situations where employees are physically present at work and clock in their required number of hours, but then are disengaged and do not perform any meaningful work during their working hours.
Presenteeism is even worse than absenteeism, considering that employees will come to work and get paid for the number of hours they were present, yet they do not get much done during this time.
To make matters worse, presenteeism is a lot harder to notice, because these employees seem to be working, even though they are not.
Offering flextime makes it possible for workers to deal with outside issues that they would have otherwise brought with them to work, leading to presenteeism.
Reduced Absenteeism and Tardiness
When you give employees the freedom to customize their workday based on what works for them, rather than being forced to work with strict schedules, they are more likely to clock in their requisite number of hours each day and are less likely to miss work.
For instance, that young mother who often leaves work 30 minutes earlier so that she can pick her kid from baby care would clock in 30 minutes earlier if the company had a flextime arrangement.
Similarly, instead of having an employee miss the whole of Friday because of a family engagement, with flextime, they would have had the option of working an extra two hours throughout the week so that they could get Friday off without cutting into company time.
This is not just speculation.
A study by CCH Incorporated found that when employees are given the freedom to customize their schedules, they are more likely to clock in to their shifts on time.
Flexible working arrangements also reduce the likelihood of your employees missing work due to unplanned reasons.
Therefore, if you are worried that offering flextime to your employees will result in them not showing up to work or not clocking in the requisite number of hours, your fears are unfounded.
Having gone through the advantages of offering flextime to your employees, I believe you can now see that it can actually be a good thing for your company.
It shows your employees that you actually care for them and are ready to support them.
To have an easy time implementing the flextime policy, and to ensure that there are minimal disruptions as you shift to the flextime arrangement, you should first communicate with your employees and other stakeholders and find out what they think about the flextime policy.
You should also establish accountability protocols to make sure crafty employees do not take advantage of the policy to steal company time.
Finally, you should also consult with your company’s legal time to make sure that your flextime policy is in compliance with all labor laws.
In Mountain View, we meet CTO & Cofounder of BloomReach, Ashutosh Garg. He shares his story of …