Implement a Flexible Employee Program: Worker-Centric Policies Contribute to Engagement and Profits

Article excerpt

Studies prove it time and again: Employees are happier, more productive and more loyal if they are engaged. And flexibility produces engagement. One survey by Workplace Options, which provides employers with benefits and consulting services, found that 69 percent of workers have more loyalty to employers that offer greater work-hour flexibility.

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Take First Tennessee Bank, which in the late 1990s was suffering from high turnover and the resulting customer complaints. The bank created a program that provided benefits for part-time employees and childcare for workers' sick children. Five years later, more than 60 percent of employees had used at least one part of the flexibility program. The bank reported saving $3 million in turnover costs, and retention rates beat industry averages by 9 percentage points.

While these programs are increasingly commonplace, the demand to adapt to workers' needs and wants keeps growing. "Considering how employees strike a balance between their work lives and personal lives is critical for attracting and retaining talent." says Dean Debnam, Workplace Options CEO. The key is to constantly measure and tweak your policies. This is especially true with younger workers, Debnam says, who expect more say-so in when, how and where they work. "When you bring in the Millennial generation, everything changes. If you don't change how you relate to your employees, you can't be successful in harnessing talent."

To create and implement worker policies that will be most product lye for your organization:

* Factor the concept of flexibility into all aspects of your business. Is there a way to give workers more choice in which technology they use? Flow about changing the trajectory by which an employee matures through the organization--perhaps moving across departments instead of just. up the ladder in a single department?

* Identify which positions qualify for flexible or part-time hours. Positions in which most working hours are spent facing clients may not be a good lit for such a program.

* For or other job titles. "identify which jobs are not time-centric. and dispense with t lie concept that things have to be completed within a 9-to-5 day. "says David Lewis, president and CEO of Operationslnc. a human resources outsourcing and consulting firm. Lewis hires Marty consultants who are paid for as many hours as they work each week but are only required to be available, either at home or at their desks. between 10 a.m. and p.m.--the core hours when clients call in. The rest of the time they are free to wort: when and where they please. -There are a lot of tasks like reviewing resumes and writing job descriptions that people can handle at any time of day, from anywhere." he says.

* If you know that team members crave alternative work arrangements, gather a task force or conduct a survey. Ask how the company can meet their work--life balance needs.

* Leave some details for flexibility programs up to individual managers. Not every policy is right for every learn.

* Be especially clear about goals and expectations, especially when employees are working remotely or on reduced or alternaive schedules. Debnam suggests.

* Institute ways to connect co-workers, This might mean requiring remote workers to spend certain days or weeks in the oil ice or Faciliting instant messaging arid social media communications to replicate office camaraderie and ensure checkins with management.

* Think through the workers home office issues. Address potential problems related to (Lila breaches by setting policies and investing in software to secure communications Also thin through ergonomics. 'A growing number of workers comps claims are a result of people working at home," Lewis says. "And one of the biggest issues is people working at the kitchen table, which is several inches higher than your desk. …