The Key to Happiness at Work: Schedule Flexibility

Aug. 6, 2003
Giving employees something to smile about at the office may be as simple as offering them more control over their time, a recent survey suggests. One-third (33 percent) of workers polled said greater schedule flexibility would result in increased job satisfaction.

OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals, developed the survey.

Survey respondents were asked, "Which one of the following would give you greater satisfaction in your current job?"

  • More flexibility work schedule 33 percent
  • More autonomy in making decisions 17 percent
  • More variety in work projects 17 percent
  • More collaboration with others 17 percent
  • Something else/none of the above 14 percent
  • Don't know/no answer 2 percent

"Firms that have made staff reductions are relying heavily on remaining employees to assume expanded responsibilities," said Liz Hughes, vice president of OfficeTeam. "But more work often means longer hours, which can lead to burnout. A flexible schedule can alleviate some of the burden and allow for greater work-life balance for staff."

Hughes commented the best managers focus on retaining top performers in any economy. "Turnover is costly, and employees who feel appreciated are less likely to leave when business conditions improve," she pointed out.

Hughes offers the following tips for managers investigating flexible work schedules for employees:

Focus on results, not face time. Your best workers may not be the ones who log the most hours or provide the most detailed activity reports. Make sure team members are aware of how performance is measured and evaluated.

Take a personal interest. Find out what interests people outside of work so you know why employees want more flexibility. The reasons could range from pursuing an advanced degree to spending more time with family.

Pay attention to timing. Not everyone produces the best work between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. If possible, stagger schedules to enable early risers and night owls to work when they're most productive. As an added benefit, this will enable you to expand coverage to clients.

Keep daily issues in mind. If permanent flex-time arrangements are not feasible, offer your workers flexibility with their daily schedules. Finding time to run personal errands can be a challenge, particularly those tasks that can only be handled during business hours. Your full-time employees will appreciate the option to take early or late lunch hours, for example, to address these tasks.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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