Will you do us the honor and join our team of authors?

To write for the SohoBlog, contact us at [email protected]
(Shakespearean prose not required.)

Adapting to the Blurring Borders: Workplace Flexibility

In a previous post, I discussed how the borders between work and family are becoming more and more blurry. As I wrote, in the past half-century, two major changes have affected the work/family relationship. First, nowadays more women are abandoning their traditional family role as the caregiver, willingly or because they have to, and entering the labor force. Second, new and modern family structures such as single parents and divorced families are becoming more common. This shift has changed the way familial and economic responsibilities are being divided between the family members. These responsibilities may be divided differently, but they are still there. Juggling them and finding the right balance between being there for the family and paying the bills is a very hard task.

Researchers, organizations and governments have given great attention to the juggling act employees are faced with. They all agree that workplace flexibility is crucial. There are many definitions of the term “workplace flexibility,” but I think the most simple and clear definition to go by is that workplace flexibility is the way work patterns are adapted to fit the individual employee’s needs and life circumstances.

While large businesses with hundreds of employees and unlimited resources have the luxury of being more considerate of their employees’ personal needs, the case is different for small- and medium-sized businesses. Having a limited number of employees and resources makes it very difficult for them to be flexible, as every employee is critical to their day-to-day operation. Does that mean SMB owners don’t have to provide themselves and their employees with flexibility? Unfortunately, it does not.

What will you gain from being a flexible employer? Your employees will be more satisfied, engaged and loyal to you, and at the end of the day, it will increase your bottom line. This is how: First, workplace flexibility is directly and positively linked to higher employee productivity.

Also, employees don’t mind being paid less if they don’t need to finance long hours of child or elder care. Flexibility also helps reduce turnover, as employees of a flexible employer report higher job satisfaction, loyalty and commitment to their employer. Turnover can be very costly because it entails the recruitment and training costs of the new employee, and as researchers suggest, turnover costs can reach 3% of employees’ yearly pay.

Reducing absenteeism is another major plus to being flexible, especially in small businesses, where each worker’s job is different and critical to the firm’s output. Of course, some absenteeism is inevitable, but reports show that all employees don’t show up to work just because they don’t want to at least once a year. Furthermore, flexibility reduces the stress employees experience when they struggle to balance work and life. The reduced stress can have a positive effect on their health.

How can you be flexible? As I previously mentioned, each employee has different life circumstances and responsibilities, and so needs differ. Flexibility can also come in many shapes and forms, but here are some methods are more commonly used by employers around the world: flexibility in the scheduling of hours gives employees a certain amount of control over when they arrive at and leave work, and allows them to schedule their own breaks and overtime. Flexibility in the place of work allows the employees to conduct some of their work from home. And flexibility in the number of hours worked means enabling two employees to share a job, allowing an employee to move from full- to part-time while keeping his position, and permitting a leave of absence after a major life event.

The combination of being a small business owner and a flexible employer is yet another juggling act. Though harder than in most cases, benefits can also be greater. I hope this post gave you some information on workplace flexibility, and will help you to adopt it into your life and work.

For further reading, click: here

Related Posts

The Blurring Borders between Work and Family
You NEED a vacation!
Putting Positive Psychology to Work
Tags: , ,