Flexibility ■ ■ ■
Flexibility in working hours and schedules tops the most-wanted list among family-friendly benefits. And it makes sense. Setting your own hours is ideal if you're a parent who wants to eat dinner with her kids at home (like Heather), or if you, like Kathy, are taking care of an elderly parent who needs to be driven to the doctor.
But not all employers allow a non-traditional workday, and even among those that do, many of their employees don't take full advantage of this benefit. That's why it's important to ask for the flexibility you need. More and more employers offer it, and even if you're the first in your company to use it, you can pave the way for others to do the same.
There are many types of work flexibility available. Some of these are:
Negative outcomes with a lack of flexibility:
When the demands of work compete with the demands of family, the family usually suffers most. Negative outcomes for workers experiencing work-family conflict can include:
The positive outcomes for workplace flexibility include:
After consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu determined that increased flexibility would decrease turnover, it introduced flexibility programs. Deloitte's turnover rates for male and female workers are now nearly equal. In 1993, they had 14 women in leadership positions. Compare that to 168 in 2003. Fortune 500 companies that aggressively hire and promote women have 34 percent higher profits than their industry peers.Also in 1993, Deloitte saved $41.5 million by retaining employees who would have left the firm without a flexible work arrangement.
It isn't just professionals that benefit from flexibility. Studies show employers reap the same benefits (improved retention, productivity, employee engagement, etc.) when they extend flexibility to hourly workers. So whether you work in retail, health care, law, or business, flexibility can help both you and your employer.
"We're living in a different world now in terms of employee needs, and companies have to offer alternative methods for getting the work done. Even under the most difficult circumstances you can have creative flexibility."
-Anne M. Mulcahy
"My company and its local culture is big on what they call work/life balance. They offer decent vacation time, and they encourage you to take it. They compensate those who work overtime to handle overload by giving extra time off when things slow down. And (per my supervisor) I do what I need to do if my kids need me. I don't get any grief about long lunches, leaving early, or coming in late, if my kid has an appointment or a school play."