Flexible Work Arrangements: Strategies for Retention

January 30, 2020 Brandon Barborka

Burnout-Prevention-Starts-With-Overtime-Reduction_Blog_Staff-Management-SMXFlexible work arrangements have long been a tool used by companies to broaden the applicant pool. Whether it’s the option to work from home or flexible scheduling, these perks have made particular jobs more attractive for high-quality candidates.

Now some companies are starting to worry that these incentives are hurting their workforce when it comes to productivity. IBM, an early adopter of flexible work arrangements, made waves recently by announcing that it would significantly curtail its work-from-home program.

On the other hand, as the presence of Millennials in the workforce grows, flexible work arrangements are often a key perk that helps companies retain talent. A recent Deloitte survey found that Millennials in highly flexible work environments tend to be significantly more loyal to their employers. And interestingly enough, the more flexible the environment, the more they trust it. In companies that had a high provision of flexible working, 86 percent of Millennial workers trusted their co-workers to respect flexible policies and perceived that their managers trusted them to do the same.

So how do you get the retention boost that comes from flexible work arrangements while avoiding the challenges that could come with them? Here are our tips for a few common perks.

Tips for Flexible Scheduling

In the most flexible work environments, full-time workers can set their own hours as long as they complete the tasks that are required of them. This certainly won’t work for all employers, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any options.

Other options include a compressed work week or a daily flexible schedule. A compressed work week is comprised of a shorter work week where an employee works more hours during the days when they’re scheduled. That typically equates to a work week comprised of 4 days, and the worker would put in 10 hours on each of those days.

Alternatively, a daily flexible schedule presents workers with the opportunity to move their shift earlier or later. Instead of working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., they might work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on an ongoing basis.

The key to making either of these situations work is to make sure that your core hours are covered, and that your workers are still accountable for completing the work that’s required of them and adhering to their designated schedules. If they need to change a part of their schedule, they should still provide sufficient notice.

To implement flexible part-time work scheduling for our clients in manufacturing, distribution and fulfillment, we use an optional program called FLEX that allows workers to define which days and times they’re available for scheduling. Then we only give them shifts during those times.

Tips for Flexible Dress Codes

Another flexible work arrangement that’s become increasingly popular in recent years is the relaxed dress code. Workplaces across the country are opting for business casual, jeans or even greater wardrobe freedom.

What should you keep in mind if you opt to relax your dress standards? Don’t shy away from educating your employees about where your clothing standards are going. Don’t assume that everybody on your team knows what you mean by "business casual," because Millennials just might not know, and it might mean something different to the person on your team from the opposite coast who just starting working in your office.

Additionally, you have to keep in mind what’s attainable for your industry and for your company’s culture. Not everybody can implement dress codes that align with start-up style, and light industrial workers will have to stay safe on the job. That means steel-toed boots must stay and uniforms sometimes will too.

What can you do in this kind of environment? Allow for multiple uniform options. Even just a few different colors and styles, like different shades or the ability to swap a polo for a button-down, can provide the kind of flexibility that makes a big difference for workers.

Tips for Creative Perks

What’s unique about your company, your environment and your opportunities? What would be uniquely motivating for your workers? How can you use flexible work arrangements to provide some of those motivators?

For some workforces, it might be a wellness program that provides health tips, clubs or groups, and shared gym equipment. Financial wellness support is another option that’s gained traction lately.

Maybe you can’t offer your workers the option of a flexible schedule, but can you help them get to work during the hours when you need them? Public transit benefits are one perk that you might be able to provide, or in areas with limited public transportation, you could try what we’ve done in the past: You could provide busing yourself.

If you think broadly about what makes motivates your workforce, you’ll find further flexible work arrangements that could help your workers.

Responsive Workforce Approaches Retain Workers

Not every flexible workforce arrangement is a perfect fit for every environment, but the important factor here is to be responsive to the perks that motivate your workforce while building trust between workers and management. Maybe it’s a flexible schedule, a greater variety of uniform options or a celebratory meal that will help keep your workers invested.

If you're in the distribution field, be sure to check out our retention tips that are unique to your industry.

At Staff Management | SMX, we’re responsive workforce leaders, and we’re experts at ensuring your workforce is as productive as possible. Let us tell you about our 5 Tips for Boosting Workforce Productivity.

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