Posts Tagged ‘flexibility’

Create a Flexible Work Environment With These 6 Tips

Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services

Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services

In today’s post Molly Hegeman, CAI’s Vice President of  HR Services, shares helpful strategies for companies looking to offer more flexible scheduling to its employees.

When CAI first surveyed about flexible schedules in 2012, 48% of companies responded that they offered some form alternative work schedules.  In the 2014 NC Policies and Benefits Survey, that number had grown to 52%. In a recent discussion that I had with a group of HR professionals in Jacksonville, NC, this market trend got a lot of interest. Alternative work arrangements are definitely gaining popularity with employees, as evidenced by feedback in the Employee Opinion Surveys that CAI conducts.  All levels and types of employees are voicing a greater interest in flexibility with their hours, the work environment, etc.

With the convenience of mobile and wireless devices, many employees can work nearly 24/7. It seems only right that we should recognize the efforts of employees who check and respond to emails, complete a project after hours, etc. by giving them flexibility with their time.  So, what does that mean for employers?  More specifically, how do you make it work, especially in traditional organizations?

It used to be that companies would only allow a policy to exist if it affected all employees. I don’t think that’s practical anymore. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe all employees should be treated fairly. But fairly does not mean equal in all situations. For example, you may be able to offer a work from home schedule to an employee whose work is fairly independent and not contingent upon physically being in the office. That may not be practical, however, for the receptionist whose main job function is physically greeting customers/clients. It’s probably not reasonable for the organization to set up a virtual/Skype situation.  But, that employee could be afforded the option of a modified work shift and/or remote phone coverage (leaving only limited in person reception duties to be rearranged when needed).

So what’s an organization to do when it hasn’t previously offered flexible scheduling or remote work arrangements?

  1. Understand the options like flex time (schedule-based: compressed work week, flex hours, etc.) and flex location (location-based: telework, working remote).
  2. Consider why you would introduce flex work arrangements and what problem you are trying to solve (downsizing office space, employee morale, etc.).
  3. Ensure your management team supports schedule and/or location-based flex arrangements
  4. Define eligibility and the business situations that support the flex arrangements (even if you start in selected departments within your organization)
  5. Establish guidelines and procedures for your employees and managers to follow
  6. Continuously evaluate the flex arrangements and impact on employees, morale, productivity, business needs, etc.

In a world where there are competing interests and demands on all of us, why not consider the opportunity to help support your employees’ work-life effectiveness?  Whether you introduce small changes or a full program, the positive reaction and response from your employees (and managers) will be returned ten-fold. Flex work arrangements are a great strategy in attracting, retaining and motivating your workforce!

Want more information on our survey findings? Need help creating or updating your flexible schedule policy? Feel free to contact me, Molly Hegeman, directly at (919) 713-5263 or molly.hegeman@capital.org.

45 Percent of NC Employers Offer Alternative Work Schedules for Staff

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

In today’s video post, CAI’s Vice President of HR Services, Molly Hegeman, shares more insights from the 2012 Policies & Benefits Survey. More than 260 employers from across North Carolina participated in last year’s survey.

Molly reveals that the number of North Carolina employers offering alternative work schedules has increased. Forty-five percent of NC employers now offer alternative options for their employees’ workday routines. These options include flexible hours, working remotely and compressed work weeks. Molly says that compressed workweeks are especially popular in the summer.

There are a number of reasons why employers should incorporate alternative work schedules as part of their benefits package. Employees are requesting more flexible work weeks and looking for employers who offer them. Nontraditional work schedules also help create a balance between work and home life that employees need.

Organizations that offer alternative scheduling have the opportunity to decrease absenteeism and distracted employees. Molly says that a greater commitment and engagement from the workforce is achieved when these programs are offered.

For more information on offering flexible work weeks, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

4 Tips to Beat Summeritis and Keep Your Employees Productive

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Summeritis is a common term heard among high school and college students when the warm weather season is quickly approaching. Symptoms of this seasonal disease include excessive daydreaming about trips to the beach or pool, a decreased ability in retaining information, sluggish performance and producing poor quality work. Yesterday marked the first day of summer, and you may have noticed some symptoms of summeritis floating around your workplace. While summer months tend to be slower for companies because of vacations from your staffers and clients, maintaining high productivity is still achievable. Prevent the symptoms of Summeritis in your staff by utilizing these four tips:

Plan for Vacation

With school out and an increase in nice weather, summer months are the ideal time for employees to go on vacation. Research shows that Americans are notorious for not using all of their vacation. While a strong work ethic is admirable, taking a vacation allows you to rest, recharge and come back to the office full of energy to be productive. Make sure you and your employees plan a solid vacation with family or friends.

Utilize Flexibility

Many companies are offering their workers flexibility during the hottest time of year. Some companies allow their staff to leave early on Fridays to enjoy the weather and spend quality time with people who aren’t their coworkers. Like the effects of a summer vacation, employees return to the office on Monday feeling refreshed and ready to perform again. If this set up isn’t feasible for your company, try a variation. Have employees come in earlier or work through their lunch break to leave the office sooner.

Delegate When Needed

Don’t let important tasks go unfinished because fewer people are around the office. Before an employee leaves for vacation, meet up with her to go over tasks that she is currently working on and ask her if she needs assistance while she’s away. Using strong teamwork during the summer months ensures that deliverables are met.

Have Some Fun

Keeping your workers productive during this time of year is important, but don’t ignore the fact that this is one of the most fun times of the year. Celebrate the season and all of the accomplishments your team has made throughout the first half of the year with an office party or celebratory lunch. Recognizing their efforts and letting them have some workplace fun will keep their morale high and performance stellar.

For more tips to keep you and your employees productive during the summertime, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: turbulentflow

3 Ways to Increase Your Staff’s Energy and Productivity Levels

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Have you noticed that some of your employees are running low on energy? Yes, employers have had a difficult time withstanding the economic climate over the past few years, but employees have also felt the pressure. Many workers have taken on more responsibility after seeing their coworkers get laid off. Some are also working longer to keep their company running like there’s a full staff. Doing more work and putting in more hours without significant increases in their pay or positive changes in their benefits can drain the energy of your employees.

The economic climate of the past few years made it necessary for many employers to get the most out of their employees, but doing so may have led to decreases in their workforce’s productivity level and job satisfaction. To keep your employees away from the brink of exhaustion, try these three methods to encourage motivation, increase morale and boost work performance:

Workplace Flexibility

If feasible for their position, allow your employees to enjoy more flexible schedules. When employees need a physical or mental break from work, flex schedules help employees maintain work/life balance, which aids them in completing quality work for your company. For additional benefits from flexible schedules for both employees and employers read our post Employers, Reap the Benefits of Telecommuting.

Employee Recognition

Taking time to recognize the contributions made by your employees will improve their work performance and attitude. Your workers want to know that their efforts are affecting your company positively, so letting them know how they specifically contribute to their organization’s success will raise their morale and company loyalty. For different ideas on how to show your employees you appreciate them, please see our blog post 17 Ways to Show Your Employees Appreciation.

Ongoing Training

Your employees are more likely to stay with your organization and produce great work if you provide them with opportunities to expand their skill sets. Most employees are eager to learn new methods to streamline their workflows and new knowledge to assist them in completing projects. There are a number of ways you can help your employees reach their full potential. Check some of them out on our blog post Continuous Education Helps You, Your Employees and Your Business Thrive.

For more tips on engaging and energizing your workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Is Your Company Prepared for America’s Ageing Workforce?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Many labor studies and workforce statistics indicate that the American workforce is ageing. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 4.6 adults will turn 65 each minute during 2012, and by 2025 that figure will increase to eight adults each minute. Knowing that America is graying rapidly, it is surprising that many employers have not prepared for this demographic change when planning for their future business ventures.

Ignoring reports revealing that baby boomers are interested in working past their retirement age and will stay at companies that offer flexibility will leave your company vulnerable to disorganization and revenue loss. Older workers offer a number of benefits to their employers. They are hardworking, loyal and professional. Older employees also boast vast networks of business contacts and extensive experience in their line of work.

Research shows that many baby boomers have no plans to fully retire and are interested in staying plugged into their career fields. If you’re interested in retaining the company knowledge that your older workers have acquired and the strong work ethics they incorporate into each of their projects, make sure you are keeping their needs in mind when you’re planning for company succession and total rewards packages. Listed below are a few items that older workers would like to see from their employers:

Flexibility

Employees approaching retirement age are not interested in working the typical 40-hour week. An increasing number of companies are receiving requests from their older workers to have more flexible work schedules.  Many workers at this age desire a high-quality of life and would prefer to work part time. To accommodate requests, organizations are implementing a number of measures to achieve productive, part-time schedules. Accommodations include reduced hours, telecommuting and job sharing.

Consulting

Data shows that the US is experiencing a skills gap between available positions and available talent. When older workers retire, they take with them company experience and expertise, which is impossible to replace. For your employees who are contemplating retirement, ask them if they’d be interested in working for the company as a part-time consultant. In this setup, they will be able to reduce their hours and continue to apply their knowledge while your organization still has a valuable and reliable company resource on staff.

Health Plans

A company’s health care plan can be a determining factor on whether an employee decides to retire or stay with his organization. Many older workers may remain in their position longer than they’d like for fear that they’ll lose their health benefits. Feeling trapped in their jobs could result in their disengagement and reduced productivity. Meet with your benefits provider and work to offer a wellness and benefits program that will suit all of your employees, including your older workers.

Don’t lose your high-value talent and the company knowledge they carry with them because of poor workforce planning. If you would like additional information on succession planning or managing an aging workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: skilledwork_org

America is Stressed: Five Tips to Help Your Employees Prevent the Effects of Workplace Stress

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The American Psychological Association (APA) released the results of its annual Stress in America survey on January 11, 2012.  More than 1,200 adults, aged 18 and older, participated in the survey that was conducted between August 11 and September 6 of last year.

In describing its findings from the survey, APA suggests that America is on the verge of a public health crisis due to stress:

“Participants’ responses have revealed high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress and alarming physical health consequences of stress — a combination that suggests the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis.”

As an employer, it is important to know that 70 percent of survey respondents cited work as one of their top stressors. The survey reveals that people understand the effects that stress can have on their health, but they are not taking adequate steps to prevent stress or manage it well, which causes them to experience symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, and lack of interest or motivation.

Employees who have high levels of stress struggle to perform at their best. For your company, this means less quality work, more errors, decreased morale, poor customer service and increased absenteeism if you decide to ignore the presence of stress in your workplace.

Our December post on stress offered tips on how you can help your employees maintain their stress levels. The tips below offer your employees tactics that they can utilize on their own to manage stress. Share and review the following with your workforce:

Press Pause

Many people experience stress because they regularly work up to their breaking points. Approaching work in that manner causes high anxiety and frequent fatigue, and completed products from this method are generally less than stellar. Avoid this behavior by taking breaks when necessary. Walking away from an overwhelming project for 15 minutes can help you calm down and return to work with a clear mind that is ready to focus.   

Lean on Colleagues

Do not be afraid to speak up when your workload is greater than you can handle. Companies who value teamwork are successful, so reach out to you coworker to see if he can spare ten minutes to help you review a document or complete a task. If help from your coworkers does not lighten your load, talk to your manager to see if she can help you create a system or action plan to complete your tasks.

Utilize Flexibility

More employers are offering their workforces flexibility around their schedules. With family duties and responsibilities not related to work, life can get stressful trying to balance it all. If you cannot afford a babysitter but need someone to watch your children after school, ask your manager if you can work at home for part of the day. If rush hour traffic lengthens your commute time or guzzles up your gas, ask if you can adjust your start time and end time. Show your appreciation for workplace flexibility by not taking advantage of the system and completing work during your redesigned schedule.    

Manage Time Effectively

Fifty-six percent of the survey participants believe that managing their time better will help them manage their stress. Time management is critical when working to complete several projects, but people who are stressed often spend time worrying about how they will finish their work, which leaves them with more frustration and less time to complete their projects. Stop this cycle by creating a list of the tasks that you need to get done. Prioritize the list by importance and deadline, and work hard to cross each item off. You can also break your long list into daily lists and indicate the tasks you wish to complete for each day of the week.

Be Healthy

APA’s survey revealed that participants ranked eating well and exercising at the bottom of the list when comparing factors that create a healthy lifestyle. Practicing good nutrition and fitness will immediately cause stress levels to go down. Healthy food provides your body with energy so you can stay alert for eight hours at work. Exercising multiple times per week gives you energy to focus and releases endorphins to help you stay positive. Sleep is also essential for battling stress. Getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep will help you recharge and feel refreshed for your next day of work.

According to the Stress in America survey, respondents have consistently listed work as one of their top stressors for the past five years. Be aware that this trend will likely continue for the next five years, so help your employees handle their stress to avoid burn out and achieve success for themselves and the organization. For more strategies on combating employee stress, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: bengerman