Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Dan Scalco – Owner and Director of Growth at Digitalux. His opinions are his own.
Over the past few years, “flexible scheduling” has become somewhat of a buzzword in professional circles. The term refers to a workplace scheduling structure in which employees are invited to work on a schedule that differs from the traditional 9-to-5.
These alternative scheduling options might take several forms: Some employees might customize their own schedules so they arrive earlier and leave earlier (or arrive later and leave later) than others. Others might compress 40 hours of work into a four-day work week. Others might work different hours on different days of the week—for example, someone might work for six hours on Monday and nine hours on Wednesday and Thursday. Some employees might enjoy work-from-home options. Still others might participate in part-time job sharing, in which two people take responsibility for a shared job title and each work part-time.
As you can see, “flexible scheduling” is just that—flexible. It can take a lot of forms, which makes it highly customizable to employees’ personal needs and preferences. And that’s a big part of why it’s in such high demand among professionals. Currently, 3.7 million professionals work from home at least half of the time, while 80 to 90 percent of U.S. workers say they would like to enjoy the same privilege.
Flexible scheduling doesn’t just benefit the employees who utilize it. It’s also good for the companies who promote it.
Here are six of the most compelling reasons to empower employees with flexible schedules.
1. It’s good for productivity and focus
From a business perspective, this is one of the most compelling reasons to provide employees with flexible scheduling options: Study after study has found doing so can help productivity skyrocket. There are several reasons for this:
- Employees who occasionally work from home face fewer distractions than they would in the workplace, allowing them to focus for longer periods of time
- Employees who enjoy flexible scheduling tend to have a healthier work-life balance, which helps prevent stress and burnout (both of which are major productivity drains)
- When employees aren’t having to worry about when and how they’ll take care of their personal obligations, they can concentrate better during the time they’re working
- Flexible scheduling empowers employees to work when they’re at their most productive, instead of trying to force themselves to be productive at a time when their body and mind aren’t at their best.
2. It’s good for morale
Flexible scheduling allows employees to enjoy a healthier work-life balance by providing them with greater capabilities for caring for their families, tending to personal obligations outside of work, taking care of their personal health, and so on. Additionally, employees who enjoy flexible scheduling benefits feel like they have more control over their schedule and like they’re trusted by management. Combine those factors with the fact that employees have to spend less time battling traffic congestion on morning and evening commutes, and you have a recipe for employees who are less stressed, healthier, and happier overall. Research suggests all those factors are correlated to improvements in job performance.
3. It reduces absenteeism
This is primarily due to two reasons: For starters, flexible scheduling allows team members to fit in their work around personal obligations that might otherwise have required taking off a day or several. Additionally, per a University of Minnesota study, employees who enjoy flexible scheduling are demonstrably healthier than employees who work strictly set hours. That’s largely because flexible scheduling enables employees to enjoy better sleep, which is essential for maintaining optimal wellness. (Quality sleep is also essential for maintaining productivity.) Finally, flexible scheduling allows employees to better tend to their health if they do get sick, which helps them bounce back faster from illness.
4. It facilitates recruitment efforts
A variety of surveys have found many professionals value flexible scheduling even more than salary increases—and they’re willing to switch jobs in order to get it. Thus, adding flexible scheduling to your employee benefits package can be a great way to attract top talent. It also expands your potential talent pool to include people who require unique scheduling options, such as stay-at-home parents or professionals with disabilities. If you’re willing offer full-time remote work, you can greatly expand your pool of potential applicants, because you’ll no longer be limited to talent that’s willing to relocate to your company’s physical location.
5. It boosts employee retention
Not only do flexible scheduling policies facilitate the recruitment of top talent, but they also boost retention of said talent. Employees desire flexible scheduling so strongly that they’re much more likely to remain loyal to a company that offers this benefit. In fact, one survey found that 82 percent of professionals surveyed would be more willing to stay with their employer if they were offered flexible scheduling, while 39 percent reported rejecting a promotion or hiring offer or quitting a job because it didn’t allow for flexible scheduling.
6. It saves money
Providing employees with flexible scheduling options can save your company money in a number of ways:
- If every employee works from home one or more days per week, you can save the cost of all the resources (electricity, water, paper towels, and so on) it would normally take to keep the office running during that day
- If your employees are healthier as a result of greater work-life balance, this may reduce their medical costs and, by extension, the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance. It also saves the company on lost productivity that occurs when employees are regularly absent due to illness
- Because flexible scheduling facilitates new hire recruitment and employee retention, it can help save the company turnover and hiring costs.
When you look at the advantages of utilizing flexible scheduling, it’s a wonder more employers haven’t already hopped on board. At the same time, that gives your company an advantage: If you begin offering flexible scheduling benefits now, you’ll stand out among a sea of competitors and attract talent who will enable your company to rise to the next level.