In a survey from SHRM, 91% of human resource professionals agreed that flexible work arrangements positively influence employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention. Many U.S. workers now consider flexibility to be the most important factor in considering job offers when it comes to how they can balance their personal and professional lives; in fact, 80% of employees surveyed in 2019 said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
While the interest in flexible work arrangements is very high across all employees, for those who are also parents, this can be more than a nice-to-have. Juggling the schedule limits that come with children – from daycare to kids’ sporting activities to remote learning – can mean that without flexible or alternative work options, maintaining a job can become very difficult.
Many parents, especially women, experienced the challenges of trying to balance working, parenting duties and home responsibilities before the pandemic, and these difficulties were exacerbated by the arrival of COVID-19. Post-pandemic, employers may find that employees expect to work in a more parent-friendly and supportive culture that includes a lot more flexibility.
Let’s look at the many forms that schedule flexibility can take:
Traditional Flexible Scheduling or Flextime – Employees can alter the starting and ending time of the workday. Employees may be required to work during core business hours but may vary their schedule around those hours. For instance, a parent may shift their workday to start at 7am and end at 3pm to accommodate picking up children after day care or school.
Compressed Work Week – Employees are scheduled to work the same number of hours for the week in a shorter period of days. For example, an employee may work four 10-hour days instead of the more typical schedule of five 8-hour days.
Job Sharing – Two employees share the responsibilities of one job. For example, one employee may work in the morning and the other in the afternoon, or the job-sharing employees may alternate days worked.
Remote Work – Employees can work from other locations away from the company office. This has become a very standard work practice during the pandemic with employees working from home offices. Remote working parents may still need flexibility built into their daily schedule, and may also request a compressed work week or job sharing even while working remotely.
Part-Time Employment – Employees are scheduled for less than full-time hours on an ongoing basis. For example, an employee may want to work four 8-hour days instead of five or only work 10-15 hours/week.
Benefits to Employers
When the labor market is tight, flexible scheduling options allow employers to attract candidates they might not otherwise have access to—candidates who want to work but can’t commit to a full-time or traditional schedule. This could include retirees, parents, students, or people with childcare or eldercare responsibilities.
Offering flexible or alternative work schedules could also help increase employee retention, reduce expenses, reduce absenteeism and increase job productivity, engagement and satisfaction. Lower rates of turnover and higher engagement can often translate into huge business benefits.
Overall, flexible work options can help employers make sure they have the right staff in place at the right time to meet business goals, offering the employer flexibility as well as the employees.
1. SHRM, Leveraging Workplace Flexibility for Engagement and Productivity, 2014
2. Flex Jobs Survey, SHRM, Managing Flexible Work Arrangements, 2019