Your organization wouldn’t offer flexible work arrangements like flextime and compressed workweeks if managers didn’t believe the benefits—better
Still, a recent survey by Hewitt Associates found that few organizations have formal and consistent policies in place to manage their flex programs. Very few monitor the programs to measure their effectiveness.
Make your flex program a bottom-line booster, especially in this tight economy. Here are eight strategies:
1. Make a business case. Pin down the business reason for offering each flex option. How do four-day workweeks or phased retirements benefit your bottom line? What problems—like recruitment and retention of older employees—do they solve?
2. Know the competition. Benchmark your flexibility benefits against same-size organizations in your industry. Which benefits do they have that you don’t? Are you offering programs that aren’t in demand by employees in your field?
3. Talk to employees. Ask them what kinds of flexibility they need. If you have an older workforce, on-site child care might not retain as many employees as having an elder care counselor.
4. Try it out. Before starting a full-fledged new flex program, pilot it with a few employees to see how it works for staff, teams and their managers.
5. Train everybody. Require employees and their supervisors to attend training sessions. They’ll learn how to communicate with each other and meet productivity goals under the new arrangement. Include team members in the training if they will be affected by a co-worker’s flex arrangement.
6. Write it down. Create a formal policy for flex arrangements. Detail the criteria for participating in flex programs and the need for a supervisor to approve or discontinue an arrangement.
7. Publicize the policy. Let employees know what’s available, who qualifies, why they qualify, how the arrangement works and what the boundaries are.
8. Monitor and evaluate. Encourage supervisors to set job performance goals and keep track of how well each employee meets those goals. Discontinue arrangements for employees who do not perform well.
How to measure flex effectiveness
Just 14% of the organizations in the new Hewitt survey formally measure the results of their flexible work arrangements.
Here are six ways to measure the effectiveness of flex arrangements:
1. Use turnover statistics, recruiting results and employee engagement surveys to keep tabs on whether the programs continue to meet company and employee expectations.
2. Create a confidential way for employees to let HR know their concerns about flex arrangements or their supervisor’s ability to manage it.
3. Continually ask employees whether they need additional training to successfully do their jobs in flex mode.
4. Survey co-workers, managers, clients and other stakeholders to learn how they perceive the impact of the arrangement.
5. Verify that employees—and their affected teams—are achieving performance objectives.
6. Use this information to increase training, change the arrangement or even discontinue it if it’s not benefiting the company or the employee.
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