Paper Trails

How Can We Create a Flexible Work Schedule?

Today, employees are seeking positions where work – life balance is a priority of the employer.  Many businesses are having difficulty hiring and need to consider all options for recruitment and retainment.  While not all companies can pay candidates top of market wages, offering stronger benefits can be one way to stand out above the competition.  A flexible schedule is a great benefit to offer that also provides the work – life balance that employees seek.  Let’s take a look at how you can create a flexible work schedule.

What is a flexible work schedule?

Before we dive into creating a flexible schedule, we must know what it is.  A flexible work schedule allows employees to vary their shifts work as well as their arrival and departure times.  This is an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour work week.  If a business has a flexible schedule, it is important to have a policy in their employee handbook outlining procedures.  Under some policies, employees must work a certain number of hours a pay period and be present during a certain time of the day or the week.  For example, a business may require employees to be in the office from 10am – 2pm at least 3 days a week.  In this case, employees can arrive anytime before 10am and leave anytime after 2pm and work in the office whichever 3 days fits their needs.

How can we create a flexible work schedule?

Allowing your employees to have a flexible schedule can help increase employee engagement and retention.  However, it is important to make sure your business is still staffed to appropriate levels if instituting a flexible schedule.  Here are some tips to consider:

  • Think about implementing a self-scheduling system, whether through a scheduling software or paper calendar. This is when you let your employees know what shifts need to be filled and allow them to choose when they are going to work. Allowing employees some choice over the days and times that they will work gives them control over their week.  Additionally, this will reduce your manager’s burden of preparing a schedule.
  • Communicate with employees about open shifts and encourage them to share changes to their schedule with managers or the team to keep shifts covered.
  • When staff does not want to work certain shifts, offer incentives such as bonuses or shift pay.  This can help persuade staff to pick up additional or less desirable shifts.
  • Cross-training can be helpful in this situation.  This will give everyone more flexibility as they can cover different shifts and roles.  Furthermore, this will make it easier to have the complete schedule filled as their will be more employees available to cover a certain shift.  For example, having your hostesses trained as waitstaff would allow a hostess to pick up one of those shifts you may not be able to cover otherwise.
  • Look at offering a variety of shift lengths or different starting times. Determine what shifts would work to provide the coverage you need and then work with your employees to discuss which options they would like to see.  Gathering input from your employees can increase morale and work ethic.

How should businesses proceed?

First, take a look at your particular business.  Flexible scheduling is not right for every business.  You must be sure that your employees will be able to, and willing, to cover all shifts needed.  Some businesses may only provide their managers and higher level employees with this benefit.

If you believe this could work within your organization, have a discussion upfront with your managers and employees.  This can help you gather their thoughts on the matter, as well as help set clear expectations before proceeding with this type of scheduling.  Finally, should  you be moving forward with a flexible schedule, be sure to write a policy and have employees acknowledge that they have read and understand your policy.