by Beth Swanson

Workplace Flexibility is a Business Strategy

When employers are looking at their current workforce, and need to retain as well as hire new talent, workplace flexibility or “Workflex” is a business strategy that is going to be extremely helpful in the current environment.  The national labor statistics in August indicated the unemployment rates are at 4.9 percent with Michigan’s unemployment sitting at 4.5 percent, again emphasizing how crucial it will be for your organization to give employees more control over their work time and schedules.  Recent studies have indicated that 45% of millennials have chosen flexibility over pay when choosing an employer.

Workplace flexibility consists of several different strategies defining how, when and where you get the work done.  You can have several different Workflex options within your organization based on equity not equality.

According to a recent When Work Works study here are some of the workplace flexibility strategies:

  1. Flex Time: Flex time allows an employee to select the hours they work usually within specified limits set the employer.  Employees under a flex time work schedule may also work a “condensed work week such as four ten hour days, rather than five eight hour days.
  2. Flex Careers: This type of workplace flex would consist of sabbaticals or more popular now would be dialing careers up and down.
  3. Reduced Time: Part-time and part-year working options.
  4. Flex Leaves: Allowing employees time off during the workday for personal reasons, to care for children, parental leave and elder care.
  5. Flex Place: Telecommuting on an occasional or regular basis.
  6. Phased Retirement: Arrangements for employees nearing retirement to work reduced hours and transition into retirement.

The benefits to these Workflex strategies are numerous including attracting and retaining talent, overall health of the employees, job satisfaction and employee engagement.   Another value, especially in Upper Michigan with our winters, would be the ability to continue business activity by telecommuting during a snowstorm when the weather is not conducive to travel to the office.

If you are considering the implementation of workplace flexibility, you need to consider the needs of the business, nature of the positions, individual workstyles of your employees, limitations and/or restrictions within each department, individual performances and whether or not you need informal or formal policies.  It is suggested starting with a pilot position and transition other individuals and positions through the process.

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