A Guide to Flexi Time
Flexitime is one of the most popular benefits an organisation can offer today. It’s attractive to the contemporary talent market, it’s beneficial to organisations and is reasonably straightforward to implement. This article takes you through what flexitime is, what it looks like, and the benefits of flexitime for employees and employers.
What is flexitime?
Ultimately, the premise of flexitime is where employees are allowed to choose their working hours. This comes with certain stipulations, such as achieving a certain number of hours each week or month. Flexitime is designed to allow employees to select a working pattern which suits them, as well as offering them more flexibility and options when it comes to downtime.
Forms of flexitime
There are many ways to implement flexitime in your organisation. These are discussed, one-by-one, below.
Employees can work flexible hours or flexible work patterns. An example of flexible hours is an employee who might decide to start later and finish later, or start earlier and finish earlier. Alternatively, employees might elect to change their weekly working pattern. Some examples of this could be to take an extra day off each week and work longer days instead (this is known as ‘compressed hours’), or another common pattern which is four shifts on, four shifts off, a schedule which greatly benefits shift workers.
Job sharing is where one full-time job is broken up into two or more part time roles. The most common scenario is a forty-hour job being split into two part-time, twenty hour per week roles. The key to effective job-sharing is that everyone is on the same page. Job sharers must be coordinated and able to work together to achieve team goals, and the managers must be adept in assigning tasks and keeping on top of everything that needs to be done.
Time off in lieu is where overtime is not paid on any hours or days worked over contracted time. Instead, employees are given this time back ‘in lieu’, to be taken as extra days off, or being allowed to leave earlier on a few days and still be paid for the full shift. This is a very popular method with seasonal work or workers, where business takes place in pronounced peaks and troughs.
Remote working is a great option for employees who do not always have to be physically present in the workplace. Remote working enables employees to work from home or from another location, to maintain comfort or work-life balance. A mixture of remote working and regular time in the workplace is called ‘hybrid working’.
The benefits of flexitime for employees.
Flexitime is becoming an ever more popular working method. The clearest benefit to employees is that it allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employees can alternate faster and smoother between work responsibilities and personal commitments. For example, if they need to leave work a little earlier to take their child to the doctor, there’s less rescheduling needed, and ultimately, less stress and hassle.
Connected to work-life balance is the notion of flexitime generally being a healthier way of working. Being able to effectively juggle professional and personal commitments means that employees will be more relaxed and less stressed. They will be able to work according to their energy levels, and therefore be less tired as well. Employees might also be able to avoid rush-hour commuting, which is a huge stressor for many, especially if the workplace is located in a city centre.
Happy, de-stressed employees will be more motivated and keener to take charge of their careers. Employees might also have more time for continuing professional development (CPD) when working flexitime, being able to refresh existing skills or learn some new ones. Employees might also wish to use flexitime arrangements to begin professional or academic qualifications, such as college degrees or diplomas, which, in terms of classes and assignments, might be challenging to do when working regular hours.
Four main benefits of flexitime for employers.
Flexitime is win-win – here are the top four ways it can benefit employers as well as employees.
Because flexitime is such an attractive proposition, and changing demographics mean that more people are looking for agile working patterns, marketing the fact that you offer this as a benefit will be extremely attractive to the labour market, maximising your chances of finding and hiring the best of the best. It is important to follow through on these promises as otherwise the psychological contract will be broken, and the employee might feel betrayed.
One of the reasons remote working has taken off recently is that it became a necessity in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. In general, flexitime can be beneficial to enable Covid-secure workplaces. By staggering shift times through agile scheduling, remote working and lieu days, employers are effectively creating less crowded workplaces, with people mingling less on public transport and in other crowded areas. This might reduce the risk of a localised Covid-19 outbreak and will make employees feel safer too.
Productivity and efficiency savings.
Happier employees will also be more productive at work, benefitting the organisation and its output. Employees working flexible hours might also find more time to get work done, for example, focusing their schedule on the times when they are at their most alert, or through working at home where they are at their most relaxed.
Cost efficiencies can also arise by offering flexitime, such as savings on office space, utility costs, other overheads, and potential payroll savings. If flexitime interventions succeed in attracting and retaining top talent, employers might also save money through less recruitment and labour turnover.
Once you have hired the best, you need to keep them. Offering flexitime to the existing workforce, perhaps as an outcome of engagement surveys, stay interviews, or job chats, will enable you to tailor a flexitime policy which is in direct alignment to what people want. This might be the differentiator which stops them from leaving to work for a competitor. This strategy will also have the additional impact of increasing engagement levels and fostering a happy and flexible workplace culture.
Flexitime comes in many forms and for this reason, it can be used in all manners of organisations. Employees love flexitime as it gives them greater control over both their working and personal lives. Employers who effectively introduce flexitime will benefit from a happy, engaged workforce, greater efficiency and productivity in the workplace, and possible cost savings. It really is win-win.