Now that summer is here, many of your employees' minds may be elsewhere. Some may want to sneak out early to spend a few hours at the pool, while others are wondering if their kids are OK at home on summer vacation. Many businesses find that offering alternative summer work schedules help energize their employees to be more productive, and it provides an easy way to improve employee morale. If you're not offering a flex schedule this summer, and the type of business you have isn't schedule-restrictive, it's not too late to consider it. Your employees will thank you.
What Are the Benefits of Flexible Schedules?
Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of Flexjobs, explains that flexible schedules increase employee productivity and overall job satisfaction which in turn reduces turnover. “This means you spend less time recruiting/training workers, and more time developing your workforce to be as effective as possible,” Fell says. She both advises companies who implement flexible workplaces and also manages a staff of 24 employees who have flexible schedules.
Flexible schedules also help build trust between you and your employees. “The reason we can implement an open work flow policy is that we truly trust our employees, and we know that they will be working hard regardless of where they work from. This mutual trust is extremely valuable in a work environment,” says Kelsey Meyer of Digital Talent Agents. The agency has found that alternative schedules reduce the number of vacation/personal days that employees request, and improves employee relationships because they have some space from each other.
Evaluate Scheduling Options
There are various ways to implement flexible scheduling. Many businesses offer a combination of scheduling options, while others find that one program works better than the others. Think about your business needs, as well as your employees' work styles and any personal needs they have when determining how to structure your flex schedule.
A common summer schedule is to offer a compressed work week option. Variations include working four 10-hour days with one day off, 9 hour days with a half day off or 9 hour days with a day off every two weeks. Some companies allow employees to choose which of these options works better for their schedules.
Although some companies allow working from home year round, other companies allow it more during the summer. Employees with children on summer break find this especially helpful since they may now be providing transportation to camps or daycare instead of relying on school buses. “We ask people to work from where they work best. If people get more done at home then we want them to work from there. If they are more inspired by the local coffee shop than our office, that is fine too,” Meyer says.
Determine the Nuts and Bolts
After you decide which type of schedule works best for your company, the next step is working through the logistics. Think about how the employees who choose not to participate will be impacted by the plan. Are there certain employees who will need to stagger their telecommuting hours so that the support line is always manned? Are there some positions, such as your receptionist, that will need to continue with a traditional work schedule?
Choose dates of when you will start and end the flexible-schedule option. Some owners also find it helpful to have a set checkpoint in the middle to determine if it is working and allow for any necessary tweaks. If the summer scheduling works well, you may even decide to continue it year round.
Communicate the Plan to Employees
Once you have worked out the details, have a meeting with your employees to explain the flexible schedule and answer any questions. Make sure you speak with any employees who will not be eligible before the meeting so they will not be surprised. After the meeting, send an e-mail to your staff with the details so that you have written documentation of your expectations and the parameters of the new program.
By setting clear expectations and being willing to make changes to the plan as you go based on feedback from customers and employees, you can increase your employee satisfaction. You may even enjoy the benefits of working by the pool yourself.
Does your business have a flexible schedule in the summer? If not, would you consider implementing one?
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com
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