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