To Attract Best Candidates, You Must Offer Flextime, but …

One of the most highly rated factors for attracting applicants to your organization is flextime. But offering it isn’t always easy. Megan Lee, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, tells how she did it in a company where every employee has to be on-site in person every day.

Lee, who is the director of human resources at Architecture Technology Corporation (ATC), offered her tips at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Talent Management Conference and Exhibition, held recently in San Diego.

Founded in 1981, ATC’s work is primarily with government agencies such as Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, National Security Agency, Department of Defense, NASA, DARPA, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Significant Flex Plan Restrictions

Because of its government work, the ATC considers itself a Work-Flex Outlier. Because of the type of work they do, and especially the security clearances and practices required, they had to develop a flextime plan with the following restrictions:

  • NO telecommute option
  • NO work from home option
  • NO job sharing
  • NO virtual private network (VPN)
  • NO laptops
  • All employees must be in the office Monday through Friday

Additionally, they imposed some rules themselves:

  • Equitable approach so all have the same work rules
  • Same handbook/policies for all campuses

That they have accomplished their flexing successfully is demonstrated by several awards:

  • 2014 Best 100 Companies in Minnesota To Work For
  • 2015 Best 100 Companies in Minnesota To Work For
  • 2014 When Work Works Award Winner (Formerly the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace Effectiveness & Flexibility)
  • 2013 and 2012: Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility

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4 Steps to Flexing Your Work

Lee identifies four main steps in bringing flextime to your workplace:

  1. Business need
  2. Management buy-in
  3. Policy /Handbook changes
  4. Implementation

1. Business Need

Start by answering the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of work flex for your organization.

  • Why do we want work flex?
  • Whom does this benefit?
  • What impact will this have?
  • When is this change needed?
  • Who are the key decision makers?
  • How will we execute the plan?
  • Is this decision aligned with our cultural values?

Then complete the following lists:

  • Pros and cons to flexing work.
  • Who is impacted and how by proposed change?
  • Who are your change champions?
  • WIIFM—What’s in it for management?
    • Increased ROI
    • Employee happiness = engagement

ATC’s Business Need

Lee and the ATC identified the following business needs that would be served by flextime:

  • Entice top talent.
  • Increase competitiveness in the marketplace.
  • Retain current employees.
  • Increase employee satisfaction.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Increase profitability.

Other factors the ATC considered:

  • 85% of staff is male.
  • The perception was males don’t need a flexible work environment.
  • Rise in divorces/single parents.
  • The reality is that in more and more families both adults work.
  • Many have joined the sandwich generation.

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2. Management Buy-In

Some of the research Lee used to encourage management buy-in:

Life Meets Work 2009 Survey

This is an old survey, Lee notes, but 2012 numbers were similar.

  • 45% of men report some level of work/life conflict, compared to 39% of women.
  • When examining dual-income households, the conflict factor for men goes up to 59%.

Mom Corps 2013 Survey

  • 45% of workers are willing to give up some percentage of their salary for more flexibility at work.
  • 10% is the average proportion of their salary working adults are willing to relinquish. 2012 Survey

  • 89% of employees said that work flexibility is the most important factor in finding their next job.
  • 95% of working parents said that a flexible job would allow them to be more productive.
  • 96% of employees said that having a traditional full-time job conflicts, to some degree, with important parts of taking care of their families.

Fierce Survey 2014

  • 20% of working women are willing to abandon a higher paying job for a lesser paying job with more work/life balance.
  • 70% of working women are stressed and nearly 50% experienced health issues.

When Work Works 2015 Survey

  • 87% of managers think that their employees are just as or more productive when they are able to work flexibly.

Lee offers the following as the top reasons to flex your work:

  • Recruit/retain top talent.
  • Gain a competitive advantage/stay competitive.
  • Increase worker satisfaction.
  • Increase worker productivity.
  • Save business costs.
  • Improve teamwork.
  • Lower environmental impact.
  • Align with cultural values.

Why We Flexed

Things that were particularly important in ATC’s decision to flex:

  • Management’s desire to increase revenues and productivity.
  • Management’s desire to become an employee of choice.
  • Ability to better recruit and retain top talent.
  • The existing punitive process was forcing employees to take more time off than they needed.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, step three—details of policies the ATC added, and step four—implementation, including the extraordinary changes the program brought to the ATC.

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