Families come in a dizzying array of sizes and shapes today. From single parent homes to grandparents raising grandchildren, our employees generally have far more complex care-giving roles than they did 50 years ago. That means that needs have changed, and the traditional 9am – 5pm workday is no longer a viable solution for many trying to balance work and life. If we, as managers and HR professionals, want to retain our high performers, we have to advocate for and support family-friendly scheduling practices. When we promote work/life balance, we can look forward to employees who do their best work and stick around long-term.
Putting employees in the position of choosing between the needs of their company and needs of their family is always a lose-lose proposition. Many will try to juggle, with the end result of being ineffective both at home and at work. The last thing we want is a stressed-out staff, overwhelmed and exhausted by trying to do it all. HR professionals are in the best position to develop family-friendly policies and practices, guaranteeing employees that are far more productive and effective. These can include flexible scheduling, compressed work weeks, and telecommuting. Professionals will make 9-5 support available to the business to solve the problems. The services will be beneficial for smooth working of the organizations for the owners and the managers.
The Flexible Schedule Solution
Traditionally, companies set employee schedules during the core hours of 9am – 5pm, ensuring plenty of opportunity for interaction with each other, with customers, and with management. But what if core hours were thought of differently? Flexible scheduling is an option that many companies are using successfully. This requires a simple change in thinking. Rather than setting expectations that employees must be available for the same eight hours each day, core hours can be reduced to four – perhaps 10am – 2pm or 11am – 3pm. Outside of those core hours, employees can choose what time their day starts – meaning they have the opportunity to work schedules that vary from 7am – 3pm to 10am – 6pm or 11am – 7pm. Flexible scheduling offers parents a chance to take care of appointments in the morning, to meet with teachers, and/or to pick kids up from school. In other words, it promotes the elusive work/life balance we try so hard to harness.
Compressed Work Weeks – A Win with Employees
Nearly everyone wishes for a longer weekend, and those that have care-giving responsibilities often find that the traditional two days off isn’t nearly enough to cram in everything that needs to be done. Giving these employees the gift of an extra day off – particularly a weekday to plan appointments and errands – often inspires significant employee loyalty. A compressed work week, for example switching from five eight-hour days to four ten-hour days, ensure employers still get the results they need, while employees get the time away from work they desperately want. This is a win-win on many levels, as employees often find themselves more efficient when they are in the office, because they can continue working on a project uninterrupted rather than putting it aside for the next day.
Telecommuting – the Advantage of New Technology
While technology has given us the tools to make telecommuting almost as interactive as actually being in the office, many employers have not yet caught up. Telephone, email, document sharing applications, and video conferencing are very popular for working in multi-site teams, but management continues to struggle with the perceived loss of control when employees use these tools from home. Though we hate to admit it, the fact is that we, as management and HR professionals, believe employees will abuse telecommuting privileges. However, employees report being far more efficient when they work from home, as less time is spent in commuting and they have fewer interruptions. Employers benefit from a larger pool of potential workers, as people with disabilities, retirees, and individuals with transportation challenges can contribute virtually. The solution for management to combat their fear of telecommuting is setting clear, specific metrics and goals for employees – and then holding staff accountable for meeting the targets.
Thinking outside of the 9am – 5pm box offers employers the opportunity to recruit and retain great employees with minimal investment. Happier employees are more efficient, better with customers, and highly likely to remain loyal. That makes flexible scheduling, compressed workweeks, and/or telecommuting a win-win for work/life balance.