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An argument in favor of flex time for employees

KJBevan Flexible work programs are work arrangements wherein employees are given greater scheduling freedom in how they fulfill the obligations of their positions.

The most commonplace of these programs is flextime, which gives workers far greater leeway in terms of the time when they begin and end work, provided they put in the total number of hours required by the employer.

Other common flexible working arrangements involve telecommuting, job-sharing, and compressed work weeks. Supporters of flexible work programs hail them as important recognition of the difficulties that many employees have in balancing their family obligations and their work duties, and they note that such programs can make a company more attractive to prospective employees. Critics contend, however, that while flexible employment initiatives do attempt to redress some long-time inequities in the work life-family life balance, ill-considered plans can have a deleterious impact on a company.

Flextime—This is a system wherein employees choose their starting and quitting times from a range of available hours. These periods are usually at either end of a "core" time during which most company business takes place. Formerly regarded as a rare, cutting-edge workplace arrangement, flextime is now commonly practiced in a wide variety of industries. Compressed Work Week—Under this arrangement, the standard work week is compressed into fewer than five days.

The most common incarnation of the compressed work week is one of four 10-hour days. Other options include three 12-hour days or arrangements in which employees work 9-or 10-hour days over two weeks and are compensated with an extra day or two of time off during that time. Flexplace—This term encompasses various arrangements in which an employee works from home or some other non-office location.

  • Indeed, they need to make sure that business considerations remain paramount in any discussion of flex time and other options, and that ultimate control over flexible work programs rests with them;
  • The bottom line is that tangible results are the goal;
  • Have you worked in a flexible work environment?
  • Employers can create an environment within which flexible work can succeed;
  • Inflexible hours, especially combined with low wages, place demands on employees that leave them starved for time, both for themselves and for their families;
  • By Sharlyn Lauby 2013-06-19 10:

Telecommuting is the most commonly practiced example of this type of flexible employment. Job Sharing—Under these arrangements, two people voluntarily share the duties and responsibilities of one full-time position, with both salary and benefits of that position prorated between the two individuals.

Work Sharing—These programs are increasingly used by companies that wish to avoid layoffs. It allows businesses to temporarily reduce hours and salary for a portion of their workforce.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Flextime

Expanded Leave—This option gives employees greater flexibility in terms of requesting extended periods of time away from work without losing their rights as employees. Expanded leave, which can be granted on either a paid or unpaid basis, is used for a variety of reasons, including sabbaticals, education, community service, family problems, and medical care the latter two reasons are now largely covered by the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Phased Retirement—Under these arrangements, the employee and employer agree to a schedule wherein the employee's full-time work commitments are gradually reduced over a period of months or years. Partial Retirement—These programs allow older employees to continue working on a part time basis, with no established end date.

1. Flexible Work is Not Mainstream

Work and Family Programs—These programs are still relatively rare, although some larger companies have reported good results with pilot initiatives in this area. These programs are ones in which employers provide some degree of assistance to their employees in the realms of childcare and eldercare. The best-known of these programs are in-house facilities providing care for the children of employees, but even basic flex time programs can ease childcare logistics for employees.

Kirrane in Association Management. Conversely, employees' reliability, good morale, and motivation are positive results that derive from safe, stable, developmentally sound child care arrangements.

  1. Low wage employees are the most time-starved. Establishing and communicating achievable goals, then holding employees accountable for delivering results are the key ingredients for success.
  2. Finally, proponents say the flexible work programs can be beneficial to companies by enhancing their public image and expanding the number of hours during which customers can be serviced.
  3. Results are the Only Things That Matters Flexible work is often dismissed in certain industries or positions because of the dictate that employees need to be available for the customer. Tech firms are well ahead of the curve on this one, so there's just no excuse not to be a bit flexible.

Perhaps the single most cited reason for introducing a flexible work environment is employee retention. Indeed, many businesses contend that the recent trend toward flextime and other programs has made it necessary for them to introduce their own programs or risk losing valued employees.

Reduced absenteeism, though often overlooked, is also a legitimate business rationale; flexible options not only strengthen commitment, but also give employees more time to handle the very situations that sometimes lead to absenteeism. Indeed, Sheley observed that "the most popular flexible work options are those that involve the least change.

Flex time and compressed work weeks, for example, call for the same number of hours, at the same workplace, as in traditional work arrangements. They contend that employees who are better able to attend to family needs through flex time are more likely to be contented and productive, while good employees who telecommute may get even more work done if they are freed up from office interruptions.

Business can also use flexible programs to address institutional problems.

FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS

For instance, a small-or mid-sized business that is crammed into a small an argument in favor of flex time for employees or office may want to explore telecommuting programs in order to relieve the situation without resorting to an expensive relocation or expansion.

Finally, proponents say the flexible work programs can be beneficial to companies by enhancing their public image and expanding the number of hours during which customers can be serviced. First of all, business owners and managers need to recognize that flexible work arrangements are not always appropriate for all people, jobs, or industries. Telecommuting and other "flexplace" arrangements, for example, can be disastrous or at the very least a productivity drain if used by employees who are unwilling or unable to put in a full day of work amid the non-work temptations television, pleasure reading, housecleaning, etc.

Other companies, meanwhile, find that employees "flex" in and out of the business at such different hours that overhead costs increase, customer service suffers i. This latter factor makes flex time a difficult fit for many manufacturing facilities. Peak in Management Review.

Then, when managers try to implement these programs, they discover that to be fair, flex requires them to treat different employees differently. It takes new methodologies to measure job success and investment in technologies to keep employees in constant communication. Every company's needs and operating environment is different; just because a flex program worked for a neighboring business, that does not necessarily mean that it will work for your company.

Conversely, a program that fails in another firm may work in yours. Detailed research into the needs and pressures of both the operations and the employees of each business, then, is a necessary component of any decision. So is an honest assessment of the qualities of the business's work force.

Obviously, a company that is blessed with a work force of dedicated and conscientious employees is far more likely to be productive in a flex environment than is one that is saddled with a heavy sprinkling of unmotivated employees.

Kirane recommended that businesses "assess current work-home issues affecting the [company] and its staff.

If feasible, also assess the future needs of the work force and labor pool. Defuse concerns about invasion of privacy. Structure a needs assessment survey—for example, as a checklist that doesn't require respondents to show their handwriting or give their names.

Or, within guidelines related to business needs, allow staffers to propose flexible arrangements for themselves. How to Select and Manage Alternative Work Options, recommended that the creation process include steps to ensure that new policies are compatible with existing company objectives.

They also noted that such issues as eligibility, application processes, reversibility, and changes to employee status should be plainly addressed. Finally, companies should formalize guidelines to head off complaints about favoritism or unfair treatment.

This can only happen, stated Olmstead and Smith, if the company actively promotes the program. Employees need to know that participation in such initiatives will not hurt their career.

Indeed, HRMagazine noted that a mid-990s report by the Catalyst research organization indicated that this can be a significant deterrent: A job-share partner or part-time employee cannot be as committed, the thinking goes. A positive experience with less than full-time work depends on the cultural values of the employee's organization. In some organizations, people who have taken less traditional schedules have been perceived as committing career suicide.

Companies instituting flex work plans must also develop resource materials and training programs for managers. In fact, in many respects, managers of personnel and projects are the people who must make the biggest adjustment to a flexible work environment. If a worker was in the office for eight hours, the boss assumed that person did eight hours of work.

A key to making sure that those needs are met is to maintain control of the program. Employees and work teams can be very helpful in shaping flexible work guidelines, but business owners and managers should be wary of handing over too much control.

Indeed, they need to make sure that business considerations remain paramount in any discussion of flex time and other options, and that ultimate control over flexible work programs rests with them.

Top 10 reasons to consider flexible working

Dysfunctional work teams, for example, will reduce flex time to a shambles if they are left to institute and supervise it themselves. Too many businesses introduce workplace flexibility programs that are flawed, but rather than review the program and make the necessary corrections, they throw up their arms and ask their personnel managers and eligible employees alike to reshape their responsibilities, priorities, and planning to match the flawed program.

Other companies, meanwhile, launch good programs that lose their effectiveness over time because of neglect. Instead, business managers and owners need to practice continuous improvement in their workplace flexibility programs, just as they do in other aspects of their operations.

And as Kirrane noted, other familiar practices and benefits continue to contribute to flexibility and strengthened families as well, including employee assistance program referrals, seminars, and counseling; assistance and subsidies for work-related moves; and leaves and subsidies for education of employees and family members.

Olmstead, Barney, and Suzanne Smith. Creating a Flexible Workplace: Building a Lean and Responsive Organization. A Survey of Flexible Employment Practices. Other articles you might like: