Benefits of WorkFlex
Flexibility requires evaluating the overall situation and being able to adapt to campus planning and needs. It also means recognizing each person has their own desire for some flexibility and control over when, where, and how work gets done. Those reasons are as unique as each individual and circumstance. Best practice is to engage in a conversation about how an employee can be most successful in their work, given their own desires and circumstances, and the work that needs to be done.
Research on workplace flexibility has proven a number of benefits:
- Reduced turnover
- Improved employee engagement
- Improved employment brand and recruiting
- Increased productivity
- Improved employee health
- Reduced life stressors and distractions
- Reduced space needs and costs
- Reduced travel and commute
- Reduced environmental footprint
- Reduced absenteeism
Everyone has to balance work and personal needs and the goal of being flexible is to provide an opportunity to improve both where feasible.
Benefits to Departments
Enhanced retention of highly skilled employees: The cost of replacing trained, experienced employees is significant. Supervisors who find ways to accommodate employees who request flexibility at different points in their life path are rewarded by keeping experienced, engaged employees longer.
Increased employee engagement, productivity, and health: Decreased stress due to use of flexible work arrangements to fit employee life needs has a demonstrated return on the loyalty, focus, and satisfaction of employees. This in turn brings new energy and talent to meeting the goals of the unit. It also contributes to decreasing stress and associated health problems that affect the university’s costs for health insurance – a goal of the university in this time of escalating health care expenses. WorkFlex may also reduce absenteeism since employees are able to adjust schedules rather than take time off from work.
Extended office and service hours: Flexible scheduling can add to the ability of a unit to meet its student and customer expectations. For units with extended hours or round-the-clock duties, a variety of scheduling options must be in place. These areas need to have a variety of staff on different schedules to meet the needs of their customers. Supervisors can accomplish this by working with staff to see who needs an earlier or later shift, who might desire part-time employment, or who might like a compressed schedule. This does not mean that each employee’s desires will always be met. The business needs of the unit must be the priority. However, collaboration with employees to find the best fit in schedule as much as possible is a smart and productive way to approach these situations. In this case, the use of flexible work schedules can extend traditional office hours to better serve customers.
Savings on salary and benefits: Part-time employment is extremely desirable for many employees who have other pressing life responsibilities, such as parenting or pursuing additional education. It is also a benefit to supervisors with limited budgets. Part-time employees can be highly productive, as their work time is limited, focused, and generally uninterrupted by breaks.
Savings on office space and equipment: Telecommuting, or working from an alternative space such as home or other workspace, can save costs on office space, furnishings, utilities, and computer equipment when deployed on a regular basis. This strategy can be very useful to the university if implemented on a large scale for workers whose primary activity is computer based. It can be useful for smaller units as well; especially those whose primary funding is grant income, and who are responsible for contributing to the cost of space and equipment used on site. This strategy also decreases pressure on needs for parking on campus and contributes to a healthier environment for the community by decreasing the number of people commuting long distances to work.
Enhanced recruitment of highly skilled employees: Workers in all fields and at all levels are expecting more flexibility and control over their working conditions as technology and best practices make workplaces and work schedules more and more variable. Supervisors are finding that for many highly skilled workers, the ability to set flexible workplace/time is as attractive as pay and benefits.
Benefits to Employees
Increased work-life balance: When given the opportunity to participate in WorkFlex, employees are better able to meet their many obligations outside of work, such as pursuing job training/education, caring for family members who need them, and having the time to exercise and eat well.
Enhanced health and well-being: Helping employees handle and reduce stress is a top goal of the ISU WorkLife program after findings show that stress is one of the top three health risks of the university population. Flexible work schedules can help meet that goal by enabling staff to meet the often conflicting demands of work, family, and self-care.
Possible reduction of need for additional time off for personal appointments: Working a flexible schedule gives employees an opportunity to take care of personal business (such as assisting family members with elder care appointments, taking care of banking needs, or other personal errands) without having to ask for additional time off.
Possible reduction or elimination of commuting time and other work-related costs: A flexible schedule can reduce travel time by avoiding rush hour commuting, eliminating a day of travel or eliminating almost all travel to the office. Savings may include the cost of gas, vehicle wear and tear/maintenance, work clothing, and meals at work.