The employee experience is top of mind for employers and employees alike these days. How do you treat your staffers? Is your compensation competitive? What benefits do you offer? These are some of the most important issues a company must perfect because workers aren’t willing to settle for anything less than “great” anymore.
For example, what was once seen as a luxury benefit is now considered a must-have for many employees: flextime. But this isn’t a perk that helps only workers. When implemented correctly, flextime can be advantageous for both you and your team.
What is flextime?
Flextime, also known as flexible working hours or flexible schedules, is a benefit that allows each employee to define their work schedule within certain parameters. The specifics of how flextime works and what kind of schedule flexibility is permitted typically vary depending on the business.
For example, one company’s flextime policy might allow employees to choose their start and end times each day, whereas another might allow them to choose between working five eight-hour days or four 10-hour days. Additionally, flextime might involve the option to work remotely a certain number of days each week or the opportunity to swap afternoon hours for evening work.
Darrell Rosenstein, founder of recruiting firm The Rosenstein Group, said most flextime policies adhere to the following three guidelines:
- Each employee’s chosen working hours are consistent every week; for example, an employee may choose to always work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
- All employees are required to be available during certain core hours of the weekday to ensure continuity in communication and collaboration.
- Regardless of the time they start and end their workdays, employees must work their required number of hours. For example, a full-time team member might be required to work a total of 40 hours each week, but how they portion those hours each day is at their discretion.
What are the benefits of flextime for employees?
Flextime has advantages for both employers and employees, and many of these benefits lead to higher employee morale. Here are some of the upsides for workers.
Better work-life balance
Flextime is very valuable to employees because it gives them the autonomy to create a work schedule that integrates cohesively with their personal life, which can result in an improved work-life balance.
“At the heart of flextime is the ability for employees to be in control of their work and personal life,” Rosenstein told business.com.
With the freedom to create a personalized work schedule on their own terms, employees have more opportunities to focus on their physical and mental health. Instead of working a schedule predetermined by someone else, they can modify their working hours around activities that foster good health, like going to the gym, spending time with family or taking a yoga class.
Time for professional development
Flexible work arrangements are also great for employees who want to engage in professional development opportunities they might otherwise not have time for.
“With a flexible schedule, employees can pursue professional development opportunities, such as attending college – something that can be difficult to do with a traditional 9-to-5 schedule,” Rosenstein said. “Access to such opportunities is especially important to millennials, who consistently prefer professional development over a salary increase.”
Nearly 40 percent of global workers say schedule flexibility is among the top three factors to consider when making a career decision, according to ManpowerGroup Solutions.
What are the benefits of flextime for employers?
Giving your staff the flexibility to create their own work schedules isn’t advantageous only to employees; it can be beneficial for employers too. Here are some of the upsides for businesses.
Better talent acquisition and retention
Since it’s one of the most popular benefits among employees, flextime can help attract and retain top talent.
According to Todd Brook, managing director at the employee engagement platform Engagement Multiplier, offering flextime can open up a candidate pool for high-demand roles you otherwise would not have had access to because of demands on their time.
“It gives you a level of differentiation, and you can end up with incredible, high-performing and loyal employees,” he said.
Employees look for more than just a competitive salary when determining whether to work for an organization. They often place a high importance on work-life balance, which flextime fosters. Ensuring team members have a positive work-life balance can also help keep them around for the long term.
“It goes without saying that when employees are happy, they are more likely to stay with you for longer,” Rosenstein said. “Every employer understands the high cost of losing and hiring a valuable employee. Allowing them to initiate a work arrangement that works for them directly minimizes turnover and the disruption it causes.” [Find out how to calculate your employee turnover rate.]
Using flextime to let employees work during the hours they are most physically and mentally available can also increase productivity.
“When they can plan their time in a way that aligns with their needs, employees are more likely to feel less stressed and burnt out, which leads to greater productivity,” Rosenstein said.
Taken together, the benefits of flextime for employees improve morale and performance, which makes for a happier, more satisfied workforce where staffers enjoy their work environment. Facilitating and maintaining such a company culture is definitely to an employer’s advantage in both the short and long term.
The Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey found that 43 percent of respondents believe flexibility in working hours helps them achieve greater productivity. It’s also beneficial for preventing burnout.
What are the disadvantages of flextime?
Flextime can be a valuable benefit, but it does have some drawbacks. Watch out for these potential disadvantages when implementing a flextime policy.
Scheduling and communication challenges
It can be difficult to organize and manage your team when everyone is operating on different schedules. For example, it can be challenging to plan meetings and other collaborative activities with asynchronous work hours. If scheduling isn’t managed properly, it can ultimately hurt your company’s bottom line.
“Without a tight arrangement, allowing employees to choose their working hours can lead to operational disruption, such as inadequate staff at any given time,” Rosenstein said. “If several employees are unavailable at certain times, projects might delay and customer service might take a blow, all of which have negative consequences for the company’s bottom line.”
If too many employees use their flextime to work remotely or work opposite schedules, your team may also lack the face-to-face time needed to feel connected.
Flextime can also lower employee morale if it is offered only to certain employees. While the team members who do get flextime may have high morale, those who don’t get to enjoy such flexibility may feel the opposite.
“If your policy only offers certain employees a flexible work schedule, others who are left out might feel resentful [and] less valued, and this could have negative implications for their productivity and long-term commitment to the company,” Rosenstein said.
To reduce the potential for scheduling complications or preferential treatment, employers should carefully consider the guidelines around how their flextime policy works.
Flexible scheduling and remote work can result in proximity bias. Be sure to address this possibility with managers before implementing flextime.
How do you implement flextime?
After consulting with Brook and Rosenstein about the best way to successfully implement flextime into an organization, we recommend the following four-step process:
1. Choose what type of flextime to offer.
The first step in implementing a flextime policy is to choose the type of flextime you want to offer. Because flextime arrangements can vary, it is critical to determine what kinds of schedules will best suit the needs of your employees and your business. Consult with the necessary stakeholders (e.g., HR team, employees, vendors) to figure out an approach that will ensure business operations continue uninterrupted.
Rosenstein said to consider offering various forms of flexible work arrangements to find what ultimately works well for your entire team. For example, experiment with options such as job sharing, telecommuting and compressed workweeks. Over time, you can home in on the frameworks to use going forward.
2. Determine your guidelines and non-negotiables.
After you have an idea of what kind of flextime you want to offer, review your business processes, staffing patterns and operational needs to determine the necessary guidelines that will inform your policy.
Brook said to decide whether there are any non-negotiable periods during which team members need to be available, such as for weekly meetings, specific events (e.g., an IT deployment) or particularly busy times (e.g., the holiday season). You should also decide how many employees from each team or department need to be available at any given time.
3. Include important details.
Write a comprehensive flextime policy that outlines how your flextime benefit works. Include important details about eligibility, request and approval procedures, and employee rights and obligations.
Brook advised employers to set clear expectations around how, when and where communication occurs, as well as what to do if something isn’t working. It’s also essential to establish performance metrics so you can track how productivity is impacted. Outlining these specific components will help with team organization, employee accountability and scheduling predictability.
“Clear accountabilities are crucial,” Brook said.
4. Make it official.
After your policy is written, you may want to consult an attorney to ensure it complies with federal, state and local labor laws. Present the final policy to your employees, and have them sign a flexible-work-arrangement form to confirm their commitment to following the guidelines.
Lastly, any time you implement a new employee benefit, it is important to update the information in your employee handbook accordingly. Be sure to also incorporate the policy into future onboarding material so new hires are aware of how flextime works at your company from day one.
Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.