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Selling flex to management? Focus on benefits beyond HR

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in Employee Benefits Program,Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

If you want support from the C-suite for work/life benefits, tout flexible schedules and telework as tools that do more than aid recruiting and retention.

In a survey by professional services firm BDO Seidman and work/life consultants Work+Life Fit, chief financial officers (CFOs) said that for flexibility to succeed, organizations have to perceive it as more than an employee perk.

Some advice from the top:

1. Change the perception that flexibility is only an employee perk or a human resource policy. Talk about it as a strategy to improve workflow, reduce environmental impact and cut health care and facilities costs.

2. Reinforce the notion that flex is an important talent-management tool that can help an organization stand out from competitors.

3. Offer flexibility as a way to curb costs during the economic downturn. Examples: 30% of CFOs surveyed said their organizations use flexibility to coordinate contract-based projects handled by laid-off employees; 24% use it to reduce employee hours while maintaining benefits. Eighty-seven percent of CFOs said their companies plan to maintain or increase their use of flexibility.

4. Collect data from execs who successfully use flexibility themselves. Use that information to help other high-level managers overcome what they see as the three main obstacles to using flex: (a) difficulty managing workloads, (b) concerns about how their colleagues will perceive them and (c) fear that using flex will hurt their careers.

5. Enlist the support of non-HR champions. Three-quarters of the CFOs in the survey said flex would fare better in organizations if business-unit leaders visibly supported it.

“In order to grow and compete in today’s complex, global business environment, companies have to … make flexibility matter to all aspects of their business,” said BDO CEO Jack Weisbaum.

Rave reviews

CFOs who rate the impact of flexibility as “high” or “moderate” say the practice:

Improves employee retention                            90%

Improves recruitment efforts                             88%

Improves productivity                                        75%

Differentiates company from competitors          72%

Reduces environmental impact                          68%

Reduces health care costs                                53%

Reduces real estate costs                                 34%

Enhances customer satisfaction                        34%

Source: BDO Seidman and Work+Life Fit survey

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