As a small business owner, you need to make sure you have the team you need to keep your business moving forward. For many businesses, that translates to having a strict work schedule for their employees—think 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.
But as the workplace continues to change and evolve, many employees are looking for more flexibility in their workday, workweek, and overall work experience. And in order to stay competitive and attract top talent, many employers are starting to embrace more workplace flexibility—and offer flextime work schedules to their employees.
But what, exactly, is flextime? As an employer, what are the pluses and minuses? And if you decide to start offering flexible work arrangements to your employees, how can you ensure that flexible working doesn’t disrupt your business?
What Is Flextime?
Flextime is a blanket term for work policies that give your employees flexibility in how and when they work.
There are a few different types of flextime work schedules, including:
- Flexible daily hours. Instead of being required to be in the office (or, in the case of telecommuting, signed in and working) for a specific block of time each day, employees have the freedom to choose how and when they work—as long as they complete the number of hours they’re assigned and get their work done.
- Flexible work weeks. Instead of working eight hours per day, five days per week, employees can work 10 hours per day, four days per week—or work nine hours per day and take off for a half-day on Fridays.
- Job sharing. Instead of hiring one full-time employee, employers may consider hiring two part-time employees—and have them split the responsibilities and hours of the full-time role.
- Flexible locations. Instead of requiring an employee to work in a specific location, employees have the flexibility to choose where they work—whether that’s working at home, coming into the office, or some combination of two.
- Seasonal flexibility. Some businesses require exempt employees to put in more hours in certain seasons than others; for example, accounting firms may need their employees to work longer hours leading up to tax season, while a software company may need their employees to put in significantly more hours in the months leading up to a new product launch. In those situations, employers may allow exempt employees to work fewer hours during slower seasons to make up for that extra time (and keep their employees from burning out).
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From an Employer Perspective, What are the Pluses and Minuses of Offering a Flexible Work Schedule?
Like anything, there are benefits and setbacks to offering flextime to your employees. And before you decide whether flexible work schedules are the right fit for your company, it’s important to understand those benefits and setbacks—and how they’re going to impact your business.
So, what are some of the pluses and minuses of flextime?
- Flextime can boost employee morale. When your employees have a say in how and when they work, that freedom can deliver a serious boost to morale, which can make them feel happier at work and lead to all sorts of benefits, including lower absenteeism, higher employee retention, higher productivity, higher job satisfaction, and better work overall.
- Flextime can help your employees achieve better work-life balance. When your employees are locked into a certain schedule, it can make it hard to balance work and their personal lives. But flexible work hours give them more control over their schedule—and can make it easier to balance work and their personal lives and avoid burnout. For example, employees may choose to work remotely to avoid rush hour traffic—or may choose to work later in the day, when they can more easily arrange for childcare.
- Flexible hours can help your business attract—and retain—top talent. Many employees are looking for flexibility at work—and if you can offer that flexibility, it will make it easier to attract top talent and keep your highest performing employees.
- Flextime can cause communication bottlenecks. When you have employees with different start and end times that are working different work hours, different days, and at different locations, it can cause delays in communication—which can, in turn, cause delays in getting things done.
- Flextime may not work for all employees. Depending on where your business is located, overtime laws may prevent you from offering certain flexible work arrangements to non-exempt employees; for example, if your business operates in a state where any number of hours above eight per workday is considered overtime, a four-day workweek—where employees work 10 hours per day—wouldn’t work for non-exempt employees (unless you were willing to pay overtime).
How to Make Flextime Arrangements Work for Your Business
If you decide that flextime is a good fit for your business, you want to make sure that the transition to more workplace flexibility works for you and your employees.
But how, exactly, do you do that? Let’s take a look at a few tips to make the flextime rollout as seamless and simple as possible:
- Implement clear communication policies…As mentioned, when employees work different schedules, it can create communication hold-ups that can negatively impact your business. If you decide to move forward with flexible working options, make sure you have protocols in place to ensure communication runs smoothly. For example, if you have employees on different shifts, working from 9am to 5pm or from 3pm to 11pm, you might schedule a team meeting from 4pm to 5pm so that employees from each shift can share what they’re working on and get any information or insight they need from other team members to move forward on their projects.
- ...and staffing policies. In order for your business to run smoothly, chances are, you need a certain amount of coverage during certain hours. To ensure that you have the coverage you need—and all your employees don’t choose to work during off hours—you’ll also want to have clear staffing policies in place. For example, employees may only work the 3pm to 10pm shift if two or more co-workers are working from 9am to 5pm on any given day.
- Keep track of employee hours. Knowing when and what hours your employees are working is always important, but it’s especially important when you’re offering flexible work options—and need to evaluate whether those flex work options are working for your company. Make sure your employees are continuing to track their time and submit timesheets; that way, you can more easily evaluate the success of your flextime work policy. For example, if you notice a spike or dip in productivity for a certain week, you can refer to your employee timesheets for that workweek—and see if that productivity spike or dip correlates to flex work hours. You can seamlessly keep track of your employees’ flextime schedules—including start times, end times, and total hours worked—with Hourly’s time tracking platform, which automates the time tracking process—and makes managing flextime easier, more streamlined, and less time consuming.
- Create a flextime work policy. In order for flexible work arrangements to work—for you and your employees—everyone needs to be on the same page. Have your human resources draft up a flextime work policy—and make sure every employee reviews and signs that policy before you implement it across your organization.
What to Include in Your Flexible Working Policy
As mentioned, having a clear flextime policy is a must if you want flexible working to work at your company. But what, exactly, should you include in that policy?
While every company policy will differ based on your organization’s needs, some elements you may want to incorporate into your flexible time work policy include:
- Outline of the flex options offered... Your flextime policy should clearly outline the different types of flextime options offered (for example, four-day workweeks or flexibility in scheduling your daily work hours).
- ...and how employees can leverage those flex options. Your flextime work policy should also clearly outline any relevant procedures employees need to know about when leveraging their flextime options. For example, do they have to request to work flex hours ahead of time—or can they choose their own hours every day? Can they work remotely whenever they want—or do they need to get approval from a supervisor? The clearer you are about how employees can use their flextime, the fewer issues there will be when you officially roll out your policy across the organization.
- Conditions that must be met for flextime eligibility. You want to make sure that your employees are staying productive and engaged when working a flexible work schedule. Your flextime work policy should clearly outline what conditions need to be met for employees to qualify for and maintain their flextime privileges.
Make Flextime Schedules Work for Your Business
Implementing flextime options at your company can be a great way to attract and retain top talent—and ensure that your employees have the flexibility they need to balance their work and personal lives. And now that you know how to effectively roll out a flextime policy, you’re armed with the information you need to ensure that flextime not only works for your employees—but also works for your business.