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How Much Flexibility Is Right for Your Organization?

Posted by Hannah Woolsey, JD | May 3, 2018 11:37:29 AM



Workplace flexibility – are you all in, not having it, or on the fence (but feel like you are being pulled down)? It’s no secret that the modern workforce values flexible work arrangements, but do employers have to conform to the wishes and demands of this younger generation? No. But, you might want to consider flexible work options if doing so can maximize employee performance, increase overall productivity, and decrease turnover, all while saving the company money.

Say what? Statistics, polls, surveys, and articles galore cite workplace flexibility as a significant factor in whether employees accept a position, are satisfied at work, perform well, and/or ultimately leave the company.  

What types of flexible work options are available, you ask?

Flexible work arrangements can come in many shapes and sizes, and must be tailored to effectively meet your business needs. When we think about workplace flexibility, we often think about employees working remotely from their homes or utilizing a flexible schedule rather than the traditional 9am-5pm arrangement. While they are two common examples of flexible work arrangements, those options will not work for every position in every company. For example, it isn’t practical for a dental hygienist to work from home, or a middle assembly person to come in three hours late. So what are your options if your employees generally can’t perform their job duties from home and they can’t come in late or leave early due to business needs?

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Summer hours: reducing your hours on Fridays during the summer to allow employees a longer weekend.

  • Compressed workweeks: employees work the same amount of hours in fewer days.

  • Reduced schedule: reducing the number of hours an employee works each week.

  • Job sharing: two employees share one position.

  • Phased retirement: employees reduce their hours over time in preparation for retirement.

  • Arranged break schedules: employees provide input regarding the timing of scheduled breaks.

  • Part-time transition period: employees gradually return to work following a major life event.

  • Part-year work: employees work during your busy season only.

  • Alternating locations: employees work at multiple locations for one company.

  • Additional or unlimited paid time off: increasing the amount of paid time off provided to employees.

Employers should not agree to flexible work arrangements that they do not understand and support, because it will be apparent to employees that the arrangements, while theoretically available, are frowned upon by management. This, in turn, will drastically impact utilization and any benefits that could have been derived from the arrangement. Flexible work arrangements should be crafted as a part of your strategic plan for attracting and retaining talent, increasing employee engagement and reducing costs related to absenteeism and turnover.

While flexible work arrangements can be beneficial to your organization, they also create varying shades of gray where black lines once defined your policies and expectations. You should consider consulting an employment attorney prior to implementing flexible work arrangements to ensure that you are taking the steps necessary to protect your organization from exposure to legal claims.


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Hannah Woolsey is a HR Consultant at Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting. She advises employers on leave policies, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, wage and hour obligations and any other issues that may arise in the workplace. In addition to providing practical solutions to employment law matters, Hannah has extensive private practice experience. Her focus included early intervention advice and solutions to employers, as well as representing them in the defense of administrative claims. She now works on a team dedicated to providing solutions for employment law and compliance matters for employers of all sizes. Hannah graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Winona State University.


Copyright © 2017 Mamu Media, LLC All Rights Reserved. 

Topics: Benefits, jobs, Job Flexibility

Written by Hannah Woolsey, JD

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