Recruiting and retaining employees who are both qualified and motivated is an ongoing challenge for most businesses. One way to build staff loyalty and increase productivity is to put policies in place to help your employees balance their commitments at work and at home.
Employees who have the time they need to care for children and/or aging parents, or pursue further education, will likely be less stressed and more focused when they are at work. By offering flexibility to employees, businesses, in turn, have greater flexibility to employ people who prefer part-time or non-traditional work arrangements that also meet the needs of your company.
Adapting to a Changing Labor Market
In recent decades, demographic and cultural changes have had a major impact on the workplace. The 9-to-5 workweek was a model at one time for the “traditional family” typically made up of one breadwinner and one homemaker. But today’s U.S. labor force is markedly different whereby workers have immediate, day-to-day family responsibilities that must be met along with their workplace responsibilities.
Despite the clear demand for programs that would support employees in juggling their personal and professional duties, many business owners still remain somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of “flexibility.” Some fear the work would not get done outside of traditional work arrangements, or there would be an added administrative burden of keeping track of staff with unconventional schedules. While other employers view flexible working as a perk to be scaled back or eliminated in periods of budget cuts and downsizing.
Although the work-life benefits offered to employees vary widely from company to company, some of the most common programs include the following:
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs)
- Child care referrals
- Elder care referrals
- Tuition assistance
- Flexible work arrangements
- Wellness programs
- Back-up child care
- Paid maternity leave
Some of these benefits, such as referral services and flexible schedules, are inexpensive to provide; others, like paid family leave or tuition assistance, are more costly. But given the potential return in improved productivity and employee retention levels, investing in a mix of programs tailored to the needs of your workforce can give a competitive edge to your company.
Hiring part-time workers is usually more cost-efficient than taking on full-time employees, especially since part-timers may not qualify for the full range of employee benefits or paid leave. But because part-time workers receive fewer benefits, they may be less loyal to their employers. Some may be tempted to leave a company if offered full-time employment elsewhere.
There are, however, some workers who prefer part-time schedules. These include parents with children, mature workers, and students. While companies may not consider it feasible to offer part-time workers the same benefits package as full-time employees, they can improve retention rates of part-timers by providing them with flexible hours and the opportunity to take unpaid leave. These employees, in particular, tend to have tight commitments outside the workplace, and would value having the flexibility to alter their schedules when needed.
Mature Workers Are Here to Stay
A transformation in the workplace is underway as many Baby Boomers make plans to work longer beyond their normal retirement age due to recent changes in the economic climate. While mature workers may stay on the job, they may want to work less than younger workers. But many companies have not anticipated having to make arrangements to accommodate these highly skilled workers with shorter work weeks or flexible hours in order to retain them.
You should discuss alternative working arrangements with employees who wish to continue to work past retirement age, such as phased retirement, flextime, compressed workweeks, part-time work, job sharing, remote or hybrid work models, job reassignment, or even job redesign. By adapting to the needs and desires of mature workers, you may be able to hold on to your key employees who have valuable experience and knowledge of your company.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or employer.
This article was prepared by Liberty Publishing, Inc.
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