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Expert Wisdom in Launching Flex Programs

February 11, 2001
Related Topics: Work/Life Balance, Benefit Design and Communication, Telecommuting, Featured Article
Implementing a flextime policy can be a major hurdle incompanies that still measure loyalty through face time. For those interested intaking the plunge, these experts share advice on how to launch a successfulprogram that not only improves morale but also positively affects the bottomline. 

  • Use flex policies to lure new employees by mentioningit in job openings. If it’s not mentioned in the ad, people interested inflex schedules won’t apply, says Robert Rodriguez, chief people person atJigZaw, Inc., a Chicago-based work/life balance consulting company. Heincludes the phrase “people interested in flextime are encouraged toreply,” and has seen a dramatic increase in the volume of responses.

  • Recognize that flextime isn’t a perk, it’s astrategic tool. Employees who take advantage of Ernst and Young’s flexprogram are “more loyal, dedicated, and motivated,” says Denny Marcel, amember of E&Y’s Office for Retention. E&Y implemented flexpolicies as part of a strategic initiative to reduce turnover in 1996 andhas seen significant results. Of the 1,600 employees who take advantage ofthe program, 84 percent say it’s the primary reason they stay at E&Y,says Marcel. 

  • Empower employees to craft flexible solutions. “Whenemployees have a vested interest in planning their schedules, they are moredogged in coming up with creative solutions,” says Marcel. “That crossesover to client work.”

  • Expect employees to make a business case for goingflextime. The focus can’t be just on the individual, it should be on theclient as well, says Ray Lewis, director of communications and manager ofPricewaterhouseCoopers' At Home program. If the clients’ needs will beserved, a flex schedule is appropriate. 

  • Give employees a formal structure for planning andimplementing a flexible schedule. A step-by-step process helps them thinkthrough all the issues involved and foresee any obstacles, says Lewis.Involve experienced flex workers in writing the policies, and make themavailable as mentors. 

  • Share success stories. Get hesitant managers beyond themyths of managing flex workers by documenting stories in newsletters andencouraging everyone to try it, says Lewis. The more buy-in you get frommanagement, the more successful the program will be. 

  • Adopt a flex policy on a small scale and measure theresults. Pinpoint business problems that could be affected by flextime, suchas reduction in overtime costs or improved call resolutions, then implementa program in one department and document the changes over a set time, saysJill Casner Lotto, vice president of the Work in America Institute, anational nonprofit organization based in Scarsdale, New York. Use theresults to support a decision for a formal flex policy throughout theorganization.

Workforce, February 2001, Vol80, No 2, p. 40  SubscribeNow!

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