Making Flexible Arrangements Work
There are challenges in adopting flexible work policies, and they are not conducive to all business environments. It goes without saying that employees must be able to get their work done and the arrangement must work for both parties. For flexible work arrangements to be effective:
employees need to be self-motivated and hard-working;
bosses and senior management must be on board and ready to manage a variety of flexible arrangements;
healthcare and other benefits must be closely examined; and
performance and results metrics should be clearly stated.
Along with performance measures, employers should consider spelling out:
the terms of the flexible setup;
contingency plans if it doesn't work;
communication plans between supervisor, colleagues and customers; and
benefits and protocol if the terms need to be changed.
Not all jobs are designed to be flexible-they may require face time during traditional business hours. Likewise, not all employees are suited to flexible work arrangements. Launching a pilot program for a defined period of time, with feedback from both managers and workers - and analysis of the results - is one way for businesses to test the waters.
In Good Company: What Businesses Offer
Here's how some of the 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 are navigating this issue:
Lee Memorial Health System offers flexible scheduling through its Seasonal Months-Off Program and Reduced Schedule Program.
At Central Florida Health Alliance, employees working at least 20 hours per week are offered job sharing, and those working 24 or more hours per week are offered compressed work schedules.
Centegra Health System's phased-retirement program offers flexible-scheduling options, such as part-time work, compressed work weeks, a registry associate program, a weekender program, job-sharing, summers off, and long-distance contract work.
L.L. Bean's "Swap Book" lets workers trade, pick up or give away shifts, volunteer to stay late, or leave early.
SC Johnson offers retirees temporary work assignments, consulting and contract work, telecommuting, and part-time work.
Most business that offer FWAs will find that all sides--employers, employees and customers--can gain from well thought-out flexibility initiatives. What's more, these options are here to stay; they are an integral part of today's competitive workplace.