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8 ways to cut costs with strategic work/life & flex benefits

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Although businesses typically view flextime, compressed workweeks and part-time schedules as recruitment and retention strategies, just 6% of employers have ditched those practices, even as they cut staffs.

Reason: “A number of employers have recognized that if they provide flexibility, they can save jobs,” says Families and Work Institute (FWI) president Ellen Galinsky.

Here are eight ways your organization can make strategic use of work/life benefits to cut costs, save jobs and pump up employee morale during the recession.

1. Offer financial counseling. Help employees manage the recession by helping them manage their finances. Even a slight reduction in pay can have a huge impact on employees who are struggling to pay their bills.

Tip: Extend the financial planning assistance to your laid-off employees as well. Between 34% and 44% of employers in the FWI survey offer counseling to pink-slipped employees.

2. Ask for volunteers to cut their own hours—before you do it for them. While 28% of employers in the study have imposed involuntary reductions in hours, 29% have asked employees to voluntarily work shorter schedules.

Tip: Allow employees who volunteer to reduce hours to keep full-time benefits.

3. Tie recession-induced sacrifices to saving jobs. Most employees will accept a temporary pay cut or furlough if they know it will prevent layoffs.

4. Promote the EAP as a go-to resource for recession-related employee problems. Employee assistance program (EAP) counselors can help workers deal with home foreclosures, bill collectors, loss of income, rising health care costs, depression, stress and anger.

5. Compress the workweek. Your organization won’t save on salaries, but it could save on operating costs. Example: When utility prices soared last summer, many organizations saved money by working their employees four 10-hour days a week instead of five eight-hour days.

6. Encourage telecommuting. For organizations that rent space, it can save money. Example: The Virginia Department of Taxation, whose employees once filled 2½ floors, was able to give up half a floor once it started having some employees work from home. The savings: $130,000 a year.

7. Offer flexibility equally to men and women. Managers tend to view work/life benefits as most attractive to women. However, the FWI survey reveals that, in reality, men are more likely to favor employers offering flex work.

8. Have some fun—or at least try to. Especially during stressful times, employers in the FWI survey report they are trying to improve morale and add some levity to the workday.

Examples: Offer fun rewards to employees who do an especially good job, arrange potluck lunches, hold raffles for inexpensive prizes.

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