There’s no denying that employees benefit from having a flexible work schedule. It allows them to accommodate the myriad of personal and work activities and responsibilities that are, well, life! But what about the organizations? What’s in it for them to buy into this whole idea of offering flexible schedules to their workforce when it would be much simpler to simply continue on the traditional 9 to 5 schedule?

Frankly, I’m glad you asked. Because I have a few ideas of where one might want to focus the next time you’re talking to your CEO or maybe even more specifically to your CFO since they are the ones to really see the value (truly bottom line value) to the business.

Let’s break it down into four main areas that businesses should pay heed to when considering these types of programs. Here’s why work flexibility makes good business “cents.”

Attraction

  • Many potential candidates these days are asking what kind of flexibility the company is offering. Especially Gen X and Gen Y. Where I as a Baby Boomer would have been more inclined to “hope” for flexibility, the younger generations are asking about it right along with what their health and retirement plans will look like.
  • Companies should consider the lost opportunity (or cost to hire) for candidates if they are not offering some form of flexibility.
    • WorldatWork’s Survey on Workplace Flexibility states that on average, companies offer at least 6 forms of flexibility to their employees (good news for those candidates out there looking.)

Retention

  • If Senior Management isn’t tuned into this one, please pass it along. Turnover costs companies some serious money! Not only is it the cost of hiring and training of the new employee, it’s also lost productivity and lower morale among those that have stayed.
  • Some studies predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.
  • Others predict the cost is even more—that losing a salaried employee can cost as much as two times their annual salary, especially for a high earner or executive level employee.

Business Continuity

  • A business continuity plan is a roadmap for continuing operations under adverse conditions. However, more than half actually do NOT have some form of flexible work arrangements written into their plans. It doesn’t make good business sense to have your operations running if you don’t have at least some employees (and I mean in addition to your IT folks) to work them. Including a form of flexibility that makes sense to the businesses’ specific situation will help keep the doors open.
    • The average loss per hour of downtime is $78,000 and companies reported an average of 38 hours of downtime per year, according to a study by market research firm (ITAC’s Business Continuity Strategy.) That’s almost $3 million dollars a year!

Real Estate Savings

  • Occupancy costs are the second largest corporate expense. Teleworking helps lower office space requirements by decentralizing a set of tasks to a low cost environment, such as at home.
    • An Agilquest (formerly Trenck) 2006 study showed that at any given time during the 8 to 5 workday, more than 50% of workspaces are unused.

Once the organization buys into the business case for offering flexible work arrangements, the next two hurdles are the biggest to get through–getting line managers to initiate these plans within their units and creating a culture where employees feel empowered to request it. Another interesting statistic from WorldatWork’s survey is that organizations that truly have an established culture of flexibility have several unique characteristics AND enjoy some payoffs that those organizations without a flexible culture don’t.

The characteristics include several components:

  • Flexibility is strategic and viewed as an essential element in achieving organizational success.
  • It is discussed as a program option to candidates and new hires.
  • There is universal access to flexibility and it is integrated into the everyday work environment.
  • Employees feel free to request flexible work arrangements as needed.

Some interesting payoffs for those established cultures:

  • Organizations with established cultures are statistically significantly more likely to report that the flexibility programs within their organization have an extremely positive or positive effect on
    • employee engagement 85%
    • employee motivation 84%
    • employee satisfaction 92%

It looks like work flexibility is a win all the way around–for employers and employees. Let’s see how many employers we can convince and start making good business cents!

Learn more about the work flexibility programs being offered at organizations across the country:

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