Flexible Schedules: An Employee Perk That Helps Small Businesses Compete
Small business owners who don’t offer flexible schedules probably don’t realize why they are so important. Of course, employees want more freedom. But there are also significant advantages for owners. In fact, employer benefits may outweigh those for the staff.
A key advantage is helping small businesses compete with larger companies. Here are some of the ways flexible schedules make small businesses more competitive:
- Lower overhead helps businesses run leaner
- Reduced absenteeism increases productivity
- Expanded hiring pool allows companies to find the best workers
- Engaged employees drive business growth
- A supportive work environment helps retain experienced employees
- Flexible scheduling reduces labor costs
Alternative schedules are part of what many call the “gig economy.” The gig economy is characterized by work that is on-demand, short-term, and project-based. Companies hire freelancers and contractors for temporary stints. Ideally, professionals choose projects that interest them for which they are qualified. Businesses have more flexibility in finding the best person for the task at hand.
Technology has enabled this type of employment. And technology is essential for companies that want to offer alternative working arrangements. With employee scheduling software, any type of business can offer non-traditional work schedules. It doesn’t have to cost more. It may even reduce labor expenses or keep them stable as a company grows.
Most of us multi-task whether we are on the clock or not. We answer work emails on our phone while standing in line at the grocery store. Though we may not like to admit it, we also take care of personal business at work.
Employers can fight this new reality or embrace it with flexible schedules. People who maintain a fluid relationship with work life and personal life can be more effective in both arenas.
Millennials now make up the largest demographic in the labor force. Some—especially those who work in a tech field—have come to expect flexible working arrangements. An employer who is trying to attract millennial workers should address this expectation.
Employee burnout is an issue for many industries, especially healthcare. When employees have more control of their shifts, they are less likely to suffer psychological stress. Workers with improved mental health are more effective and make fewer mistakes.
Employers who don’t offer anything besides standard shifts would be wise to explore the possibilities. Most businesses could re-structure their scheduling without a loss in productivity.
Let’s address some of the different types of non-traditional work schedules and benefits.
Employees who telecommute work outside of the main office. This could be at home, a shared workspace, or any other remote location.
Depending on the type of business, a telecommuter may have set hours or complete freedom. Most have a combination. For example, a software developer may be required to attend a virtual team meeting once a week. When working solo, however, they can choose their own hours.
Telecommuting enlarges the hiring pool for companies. They are not limited to job seekers in a relatively small geographic area. When an employer can hire anyone in the world, they can find the candidate with the perfect combination of skills. Diversity in any form is good for companies. It brings new ideas to help the company grow and expand their menu of products and services. It provides fresh insight to solve problems and improve processes.
Companies who employ telecommuters have lower overhead. Many companies do just fine without a central office. Some entrepreneurs who started with virtual offices have overtaken competitors with traditional workplaces. Many credit their internet-based structure as a factor in their success.
Telecommuters can be highly engaged and extremely effective. Workforce management software helps employers track hours and productivity for telecommuters. This helps them weed out employees for whom telecommuting is not a good fit.
Self-Service Employee Scheduling
Employees choose their schedules subject to company policies. There may be core times they are required to work or a minimum number of hours expected.
Many people would accept a lower paying job if they could choose their own hours. They could end up with more money in the long run. It might allow a part-timer to take on another part-time job. It can help parents stagger their hours to reduce or eliminate the cost of daycare.
Fixed Rotating Shifts
This type of scheduling is most common in manufacturing, food and beverage, and healthcare. Employees have a mix of shifts. This could include, days, evenings, and swing shifts. It could also mean alternating days worked on a predictable basis. Companies who spread the less-desirable shifts among employees tend to have a happier workforce. This is especially true for workers who receive tips. Employees who miss out on the most lucrative shifts will look elsewhere for more equitable scheduling policies. Employee scheduling software allows managers to create complicated rotating schedules for large workforces.
Compressed Work Week
Someone who works “four tens” has a compressed work week. Four 10-hour shifts squeeze a 40-hour work week into four days. Employees appreciate a three-day weekend every single week!
Non-traditional schedules have benefits for non-profit entities as well. A compressed work week has been adopted by several cities to reduce costs. Many have reported improved employee engagement and reduced absenteeism.
A job share arrangement is where two (or more) people perform a job traditionally held by one employee. Job sharing is not as common as other types of alternative scheduling. However, it is used successfully in the public and private sector.
Unlimited Time Off
Though this is not technically a “schedule” it increases workplace flexibility and provides many of the same benefits. Unlimited PTO policies are gaining traction throughout the country. U.S. workers take less vacation time than many of their counterparts around the world. Some people believe this has contributed to a highly-stressed, unhealthy workforce. Some business owners have adopted unlimited PTO to encourage their workers to take more vacation time. Surprisingly, these policies don’t always result in employees taking more time off. But employers win either way. When workers take more vacation, they are more engaged and productive. Plus, a placebo effect increases morale for everyone—regardless of whether they take more vacations.
If you are interested in implementing flexible scheduling, you will need capable software. For professional guidance, we invite you to request a demo of SwipeClock’s TimeSimplicity. TimeSimplicity is exponentially more powerful than spreadsheets. It enables employers to discover the ideal scheduling techniques for their workforce.
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