Flexibility is the latest trend in human resource management. Today’s employees want work-life balance and believe that the old 9-to-5 structure is antiquated and ineffective in modern society. But from a management perspective, how you deal with a flexible workforce will have a huge impact on how successful and efficient you are.
The Lure of Flexibility
Baby boomers have spent decades grinding away at work and putting in consistent eight-hour days for years on end. But millennials – who are quickly becoming the majority in the workplace – have no interest in maintaining what is seen as an archaic, inefficient manner of scheduling. They would much prefer more flexible options that allow for optimal creativity, productivity, and work-life balance.
Contrary to popular belief, flexible scheduling isn’t about laziness or an unwillingness to work – millennials are actually quite ambitious in their careers. Instead, the desire for flexibility has more to do with output.
According to a recent study by Bentley University, 77 percent of millennials say flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive. And they’ll soon get their way. By 2030, it’s believed that the majority of companies will have abandoned the traditional 9-to-5 day and replaced it with unique, employee-specific scheduling.
5 Tips for Managing a Flexible Workforce
As a business owner, manager, or HR professional, now is the time to respond. Not only will flexible scheduling allow you to get more out of your employees, but it should also assist in your ability to lure top talent to your company. With that being said, here are some helpful tips.
1. Try Shorter Workdays…
Most managers assume that more hours equal greater output. This may not always be the case, though – especially in creative fields where focus is a finite resource.
“Sleep deprivation may be costing employers an average of $2,000 a year per worker,” explains Ronny Kerr of Dialpad. “Instead of working the typical 9-to-5, knowledge workers and creative professionals do better with a shorter workday starting in the late morning and ending in the early afternoon—about six hours per day. This minor shift in scheduling can help creatives effectively harness their brainpower for the projects that demand their complete attention.”
2. …Or Go Longer
If you don’t operate in a creative field, you may actually benefit from longer days. Many organizations implement what are known as compressed weeks. Instead of the typical five eight-hour days, try four 10-hour days. This gives employees three-day weekends that can be used to travel or spend more time with family. Other companies allow employees to work 80 hours over a nine-day period, giving an extra day off every two weeks.
In many companies, you’ll find that employees are totally fine spending another hour or two at work if it means they’re able to accrue extra time off that can be used to achieve better work-life balance.
3. Offer Remote Working Opportunities
Flexible work scheduling doesn’t have to be a right. It can – and usually should – be a privilege. Try rewarding employees with an occasional work from home day when they reach goals or do something positive for the company. Another option is to allow those with seniority to work remotely one or two days per week.
If you do allow remote working, make sure you’re staying on top of your employees. Regularly check in with them to ensure they’re on task. The last thing you want is for employees to use remote working as an excuse to take the day off.
4. Carefully Track Hours
One of the challenging aspects of managing a flexible workforce is keeping track of who’s working when and where. This can potentially be a problem when it comes to payroll and tracking hours.
“Be clear with staff about if and how they should track their hours,” HR Council advises. “By keeping track of hours, you can calculate the actual hourly rate for each employee, see if some jobs are too big and others too small. Information about hours worked can also help to understand and reduce employee stress.”
5. Stand Up for Yourself
Most businesses will find that flexible scheduling makes employees feel more motivated – something that has a positive impact on productivity and morale. But you’ll occasionally discover an employee who can’t be trusted with the flexibility. In these situations, you must be willing to stand up for yourself and revoke certain rights.
For example, let’s say you discover that an employee is claiming to work a compressed workweek (four 10-hour days) and you find that they’re really just working four 8-hour days. You have to nip this in the bud. If you don’t, other employees will assume that this is approved behavior. Before you know it, everyone is taking advantage of the system and you’re losing hundreds of hours of work each month.
Get the Most Out of Your Employees
Recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent isn’t cheap. The last thing you want is to run off your best employees because you’re stuck following outdated management practices that no longer work in today’s evolving business world.
If the 9-to-5 is still the standard in your office, maybe it’s time to reconsider what your workforce wants and what’s truly best for them. You’ll likely find that flexible scheduling is a superior alternative.