Gauge Whether Staff Can Alter Work Routine; It Can Pay off on Job and at Home FLEXIBLE Thinking

By WOrld, Barbara Bowes Working | Winnipeg Free Press, June 3, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Gauge Whether Staff Can Alter Work Routine; It Can Pay off on Job and at Home FLEXIBLE Thinking


WOrld, Barbara Bowes Working, Winnipeg Free Press


I truly love Winnipeg's slogan -- "A great place to live, work and play" -- yet many of our workers would say they literally have no time to play! In fact, many would also say it was difficult to achieve good life/work balance.

That's because people literally run out of time.

As you know, time is definitely something you can't touch, yet it is constant and irreversible. There are only 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and that's that. Once time has passed, you can never get it back.

Since we can't control time, the only thing workers can do is to control their relationship with time. This realization has helped many workers and organizations to start paying more attention to time and the serious constraints the demands of work and families create. This is especially so because research is demonstrating that the emotional toll on employees reflects right back on organizations, affecting morale, productivity and eventually the financial bottom line.

One recent study suggests that at least one-third of employees contacted for a telephone survey were looking for a new job because of the lack of a flexible work schedule that in turn affects life/work balance. Another two-thirds of participants indicated they were favourable to greater flexibility in their workplace. Thus, the concept of flextime is growing rapidly as an HR trend as leaders recognize that not only is it a life/work balance tool, it can also be utilized as an employee recruitment and retention tool.

Flextime refers to the ability of employees to have scheduling options for their work hours. This could represent a condensed work week that consists of four 10-hour days instead of the regular nine-to-five work week, working from home through telework on a part-time or scheduled basis, as well as job sharing and other alternatives.

During 2010/11, the national association World of Work undertook a survey of public and private corporations as well as not-for-profits and government-related agencies to determine the prevalence of flexible work schedules. It found that most flextime schedules are ad hoc rather than formal. As well, the survey found that while some organizations offered up to eight options, employees more frequently opted for part-time schedules, flex time and teleworking. As can be expected, the survey also identified that flexibility options varied by industry and size, with manufacturing businesses offering fewer flexibility options.

It was interesting to learn through the survey results that organizations with an established flexibility culture actually trained their employees to be successful with their flexible schedules and trained managers on how to lead and supervise employees whom they can't see. In addition, these organizations have a formal policy with respect to flextime and use this as a recruitment tool. Overall, it was found that organizations that used flextime reported a positive effect on employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction and lower turnover.

As indicated earlier, flextime is a growing trend that is producing enormous benefits for both employer and employee. One such company, U.S. based State Street Corp., identified that the demand for flextime among employees was growing so fast that it was compelled to implement a policy and operational framework that could be applied to its 29,000 employees worldwide.

State Street offered five flexibility options including altering start/stop times, but maintaining core hours, compressed work weeks, working from home, job share or overall reduced working hours.

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