Gina Blitstein Article

Gina Blitstein Article
Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Ensuring Accountability and Productivity with Flexible Schedules

Ensuring Accountability and Productivity with Flexible Schedules

In the interest of accommodating your employees’ needs, your business may have - or be looking to - adopt a flexible schedule. Flexible schedules can allow employees to work at times that are most convenient for their lives, allowing them to attend to personal matters and obligations during traditional “business hours.” Making allowances for employees’ lives by providing the option of flexible hours can lead to greater productivity and boost job satisfaction.

Flexible schedules, however, are not necessarily simple to implement or maintain. It’s important to go into flexible schedules with a solid plan, backed by significant discovery. Once begun, flexible schedules should be monitored to ensure that they are serving employees and the business at large in the manner intended.

First and foremost, determine what flexible scheduling will look like in your workplace. Decide which positions will be eligible for flexible schedules; for some jobs, it’s simply not practical. Next, consider the parameters of your business’ definition of “flexible.” Will it mean that employees can come in and leave earlier or later during the week? Can they work longer hours for fewer days? Could they put in some time on the weekend so they’ll be able to take off on a weekday?

With a number of varied schedules operating within your organization, you’ll need to address some unique issues to keep business moving forward and avoid potential missteps.

Flexible schedules: What could go wrong?

  • Employee misuse - Even with trustworthy employees, it may be a challenge to ensure that work is being performed adequately and in a timely manner. With the inherent freedom of flexible schedules comes responsibility on the part of employees.
  • Losing track of employees and workflow - With employees working a flexible schedule, an employer may experience challenges in maintaining regular contact with them and the work they are performing.
  • Incomplete coverage - When employees are working schedules that stagger and may or may not overlap, it’s conceivable that there could be times when there are simply too few people working to meet demands.
  • Confusion as to duties/responsibilities - Flexible schedules could potentially lead to mix-ups about the who, what and when things get done.
  • Difficulties in communication and collaboration - When schedules vary, it can be challenging to get and remain on the same page with employees and coworkers.

Solutions to the challenges inherent in flexible schedules

The keys to making the most out of allowing employees to work flexible hours are within an employer’s reach.

  • Clearly articulate the expectations for those utilizing flexible schedules - Deadlines and responsibilities must continue to be met. Make it clear that flexible schedules are a benefit to employees and not their right. You will rely upon their discipline and dedication to make the arrangement work - for both your benefits.
  • Make particular effort to keep in contact with employees and track their performance - If you haven’t already, this is the time to implement some serious accountability structure. Whether it be as simple as a shared spreadsheet or as all-encompassing as a project management system, utilize some appropriate means by which to keep abreast of your employees’ and their work.
  • Even flexible schedules can be scheduled - When it’s important to have staff available, you need to know that someone is “minding the store.” A shared calendar can help your team have both flexibility and availability so that your business will always be appropriately staffed.
  • Specifically assign responsibilities - When employee schedules vary, it’s even more important that duties are spelled out and assigned ahead of time. It’s all-too-easy for employees to make assumptions about who’s responsible for what so make sure there’s no guesswork involved.
  • Make communication among your team a top priority - A conference call, lunch meeting, collaboration software… whatever the means, get and keep everyone in the loop. This becomes an even more important issue when flexible schedules hinder contact with employees and coworkers.

For many businesses, flexible schedules are well worth trying out. They’re not, however, a “set it and forget it” proposition. Your business will evolve and change over time, as will your employees. In a future incarnation of your business, flexible schedules may no longer be a policy you can implement; in such a case, it would be prudent to replace it with a more appropriate consideration.

Flexible schedules can enhance both an employee’s professional and personal life. In turn, a more content employee performs better on the job. Despite inherent challenges, flexible schedules can be a real boon to a business. Tackling these issues head-on can make for an all-around successful employment benefit.

How have flexible schedules enhanced your business?

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