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11 Ways to Ask For A Flexible Work Arrangment

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HINT: It’s good for the company.

    Burned out? Stressed? Feel that demands of the office and home are going to squeeze all the life out of you?

    A flexible work schedule is often the answer. But many managers resist, believing the conventional wisdom that the only way to get the most out of employees is to ensure that they are in the office 9-to-5, five-days-a-week. In fact, it is probably the least efficient way to work.

    A flexible work schedule is often viewed as an ideal situation solely for the employee. But in fact, flexible work arrangements create a healthy work environment that breeds trust and loyalty between management and the employee, according to Laurie Young of Flexible Resources, Inc., a full-service staffing and consulting firm with offices in New Jersey and Connecticut, that advises companies large and small on the policies and practices of the flexible workplace.

    The rewards for management are no longer mere theories. They are real and readily attainable.

    JUST HOW DOES FLEXIBILITY ENHANCE THE WORKPLACE FROM MANAGEMENT’S PERSPECTIVE?

  • Flexibility breeds productivity -- The employee approaches the job with a completely different mind-set, making all “face-time” worthwhile;
  • Reduced employee burnout – Because the flexible workplace isn’t the usual “grind,” allowing the employee the flexibility and the freedom to handle work and outside pressures in a more thoughtful way;
  • No more “mental health days”  -- Bosses know their employees call in sick when they’re not, because they need a day every now and then to regroup mentally.  Emotional and mental health is built into flexibility – because it empowers employees to manage their business and personal responsibilities in a way that is more realistic;
  • No more sneaking around – Management knows it is paying for its employees to get the car fixed, pick up a sick child at school, and other personal problems. It’s a lose/lose situation – it forces the employee to lie about absences, the boss and colleagues get resentful, and the company is paying for you not to be there. A flexible work schedule breeds mutual trust and costs management nothing – because the company pays only for productive “on-the-job” time;
  • Job sharing provides management with two talented professionals for about the price of one, giving the company greater ability to meet customer and client needs globally;
  • Upward attitude adjustment – Employees who are allowed to have balance in their lives are known to have a positive, re-energized outlook toward work. Instead of a daily marathon that sucks the energy the enthusiasm out of the individual, the flexible workplace recognizes overwhelming outside commitments, the result is a committed, loyal employee;
  • Prevent costly turnover – Our research reveals that 59% of women who leave to seek a flexible position never even bother to ask if a flexible job could have been arranged at their previous employer. Employees who feel requesting a flexible job will stigmatize them will never ask, but they will leave, and this is a huge and avoidable bottom-line cost;
  • Attract the best new talent –  Generation X professionals have demonstrated that salary isn’t all they seek – the want work/life balance, too and are willing to be loyal to the company that provides it. Also, flexible arrangements at the professional level enable small businesses to compete for talent, and attract a higher level of talent on a tight budget;
  • Gain a recruiting advantage and improve your public image – Total quality management has taught us that a good company recognizes that professional employees want to do good work, but they need an environment which enable them to thrive. That  company that will attract – and retain -- top talent;
  • Reduce overhead and improve cash flow – This is particularly important for smaller companies for whom these two are often the biggest obstacles to staying in business;
  • Improve the bottom line – The above nine reasons all add up to this -- they save the company money by increasing productivity,  reducing costly turnover, burnout, absenteeism, and by re-energizing your workforce – they all contribute positively to the bottom line, without sacrificing quality.

    Management has, in recent years, turned to downsizing as a knee-jerk response to declining financial results and poor productivity. But most companies have seen that the retained employees suffer terrible morale problems; public image and recruiting suffer, and productivity does not improve after all. Flexibility is a win/win way for management to gain a much needed financial and competitive advantage, while retaining the loyalty and commitment of talented, trained professionals.

    Flexible Resources, Inc., pioneers in the practice of flexibility, says management’s definition of flexible should be, well, flexible, including:

  • Permanent part-time;
  • Full-time on a flexible schedule, such as a compressed work-week;
  • Tele-commuting;
  • Innovative job-shares;
  • Short- and long-term contract assignments;
  • Time banks so employees can save over-time for lengthy vacations or sabbaticals (evidence shows some employees would value additional time off over a raise), and more.

    Flexible Resources, Inc., has set up flexible work arrangements for companies such as Ciba-Geigy, Kraft, Cadbury Beverages, American Express, PepsiCo, Dannon, The New York Times, Nabisco, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, GE Capital, Elizabeth Arden, Norelco, Reader’s Digest, United Technologies, and more. We have case studies to illustrate the above 10 points in action.