Posts Tagged ‘work-life balance’

Shorter Work Days: Do they make sense for your business?

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

After a two-year government study on 6-hour work days that took place in Sweden, the results are in.  While employees proved to be happier, employer costs were higher.  Is the increase in cost worth it?

The study took place at the Svartedalens retirement home and was funded by the Swedish government. Employees went from 8-hour shifts to 6-hour shifts but were allowed to maintain their 8-hour salary.  Another similar facility participated as a control group by maintaining 8-hour shifts.  When compared, 68 nurses who worked 6-hour days took half as much sick time as those in the control group.  They were also 2.8 times as likely to take any time off in a two-week period.  In addition:

·       Employees reported higher energy levels and efficiency

·       Employees called in sick 15% less

·       Employees reported that their health improved 20%

·       Employees were 20% happier

·       Employees reported having more energy both at work and home

What about productivity?  Due to the increase in energy, the nurses working 6-hour days were able to do 64% more activities with the elders.  But although productivity increased, profitability decreased.  In order to allow the 80 nurses to work reduced hours, they had to hire 17 additional staff members.  Those new hires added $738,000 to payroll, which equates to a 22% increase.  They estimate that about half of that expense is offset by the reduction in sick time, time off, and unemployment.  While the experiment proved an increase in employee satisfaction and productivity, the added costs for additional staff need to be further analyzed.

Perhaps a 30-hour work week would be more successful in organizations where 24-hour coverage is not necessary.  There are several other experiments taking place in Sweden outside of the healthcare industry.  Final results are yet to come.  Brath, a Stockholm-based startup, has utilized 6-hour work days since its launch in 2012.  They argue that the shorter days have made them more successful than they might have been with 8-hour days due to an increased work-life balance.  “Our staff gets time to rest and do things that make them happier in life,” says CEO Marie Brath.  She also states, “Our work is a lot about problem solving and creativity, and we don’t think that can be done efficiently for more than six hours.  So we produce as much as – or maybe even more than – our competitors do in their 8-hour days.”

Although not the worldwide norm, France offers 35-hour work weeks.  In the U.S. work weeks average 47 hours.  However, several large U.S. companies have begun to experiment with reduced work weeks, such as Amazon.  Results remain to be seen.  Another U.S. company, SteelHouse began 2017 with an announcement that they will offer one 3-day weekend each month.  SteelHouse CEO Mark Douglas said that the next logical step after that will be going to regular 4-day work weeks.

A more common approach in the U.S. is a compressed work week, but with the same amount of hours.  For example, working 40 hours across four days.  According to a survey by Aon Hewitt, 30% of 1,060 employers surveyed offer a compressed work week.  60% of those surveyed offer flex time, which allows employees to set their own arrival and leave times.  This approach has been shown to be successful.  Research shows that when employees are allowed to have control over their work schedules they report lower levels of stress and burnout and report higher job satisfaction.

While 30-hour work weeks are not likely to become the norm anytime soon in the U.S., it does seem that flexibility in work hours will.  Be creative in your work week structure, and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Author: Heather Nezich, Manager of Communications American Society of Employers

Sources – inc.com, Bloomberg.com, businessinsider.com; fastcoexist.com

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.

Is the Nine to Five Dying?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

recruitingIs the traditional nine-to-five work schedule a thing of the past? It appears a lot of workers seem to think so.  A recent CareerBuilder survey of more than 1,000 IT, financial services, sales, and business workers reveals 63 percent of workers believe the traditional nine-to-five model is an “outdated concept.”

The survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll from May 14 to June 3, shows how a large share of today’s workers are operating under a much more flexible work schedule than in the past.

And while many bosses may fear the loss of the traditional work frame, they need not panic just yet. While it is true that many employees no longer see the point of coming into the office five days a week, that doesn’t necessarily mean employees have lost interest in their work.

“With improvements in technology that enable employees to check in at any time, from anywhere, it makes sense to allow employees to work outside the traditional nine-to-five schedule,” said Rosemary Haefner, Chief HR Officer of CareerBuilder.

With this ability to access their work documents, calendars, and emails remotely, many of today’s workers see little to no point in sitting behind an office desk to complete their work.

In fact, 50 percent of those surveyed say they “check or respond to work emails outside of work” and nearly 40 percent say they continue to work outside of office hours.

While businesses obviously cannot allow the nine-to-five model to dissolve completely, this growing trend reflects the clear need for more flexibility within employees’ schedules.

“Moving away from a nine-to-five work week may not be possible for some companies (yet), but if done right, allowing employees more freedom and flexibility with their schedules can boost productivity,” said Haefner.

While the long-term effects of moving away from the traditional workweek remain to be seen, there does seem to be an attractive set of benefits to offering employees greater workplace flexibility:

  • Improved sense of loyalty: Employees are likely to be more attached and committed to a workplace that takes their needs for flexibility into consideration, thus resulting in
  • Greater retention: Employees will be more likely to stay in their positions if they feel content and satisfied with the work schedule
  • Heightened morale: Employees will feel more engaged and fulfilled with their work when they are working with a schedule that best suits their needs
  • Around the clock inspiration: Rather than having an employee simply turn “off” of work at 5 o’clock, giving your employees a flexible schedule will allow them to remain open to new ideas and inspiration at all hours of the day.

The nine-to-five isn’t going to disappear any time soon, but it will likely begin to change little by little to match today’s changing technological landscape. The CareerBuilder survey is beginning to show us those little changes, and businesses need to be prepared to adapt to meet them.  With the popularity of the traditional workweek waning and the benefits of workplace flexibility becoming more apparent, businesses may need to “get with the times” before losing out on top talent to more accommodating firms.

If you have any questions about how you can create a more flexible workplace within your company, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.