With the rising demands for more flexibility and better work-life balance, organizations are pivoting towards alternative work schedules to retain their existing employees and attract a large talent pool. These schedules not only reduce staff turnover but also improve employee engagement & satisfaction.
But what are these alternative work schedules, and how can they help boost employee engagement and retention?
Check this blog for all the details about alternative work schedules, their types, significance, and tips to implement them successfully.
What Are Alternative Work Schedules?
An alternative work schedule refers to various work arrangements that provide an alternative to the standard workweek schedule. Mostly, the traditional workweek includes working from Monday to Friday with a shift timing of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On the other hand, alternative work schedules involve shift timings that are usually different from the traditional work hours and can be flexible enough to adapt to individual preferences.
There Are Two Types of Alternative Work Schedules:
- Compressed Workweek Schedule- Here, the workweek hours are compressed so that employees work longer but fewer work days. The examples are 4/10, 9/80, and 2-2-3 work schedule. For instance, in a 4/10 schedule, employees complete 40 workweek hours but work only four days each of 10 hours, thus availing three days off.
- Flexible Workweek Schedule– This type includes various options, including flexitour, gliding, maxiflex, variable week, etc. Here, employees work a mix of flexible time bands and core fixed hours. Most importantly, employees have the freedom to determine their start and end times.
For example, in the Gliding schedule, employees are required to work 8 hours each day and complete 40 hours each week. However, they have the liberty to decide their shift start and end times, which can vary for each day.
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How Alternative Work Schedules Boost Employee Engagement & Retention
According to a survey from Flexjob, 81% of survey respondents revealed that they would be more loyal to their employer if they were provided with flexible work options.
But how does such flexibility result in loyalty?
This section will elaborate on how an alternative work schedule can help HR increase employee retention and improve their engagement.
1. Flexibility of Work
The alternative schedule is best known for its flexible work timings and odd work hours. For example, suppose an organization chooses to implement a 4/10 work schedule, which is a compressed workweek schedule. In that case, employees will have an extra day off each week that they can use for their personal commitments.
Similarly, suppose the company implements a flexible workweek schedule such as Flexitour. Here, employees will have to work 8-hour days and 40-hour weeks, but they will be allowed to determine their shift start and end times, which will be the same for all days.
Thus, employees have the flexibility to work, unlike the conventional 9 to 5 work timings. For instance, parents with multiple responsibilities at home may prefer to work in the evening/night hours. In such cases, alternative work schedules can step up the game by offering them the feasibility of working at their convenient hours.
2. Reduced Child Care Expenses
People who work in alternative work schedules have to bear less expenditure on childcare than those who work on a regular schedule. Parents working on an alternative schedule can use a combination of family and part-time daycare to ensure their children are taken care of properly. This mixed approach also reduces the expenses of full-time childcare services.
3. Less Commuting and Avoid Rush Hours
Alternative work schedules operate at times different from traditional schedules. Thus, employees who work during hours different from the standard work hours are more likely to avoid rush hours. Therefore, employees can reach the office or home on time without getting stuck in peak traffic hours.
Similarly, employees who work in compressed schedules, such as a 9/80 work schedule or 4/10 work schedule, can save commuting time for a day or two, as they get extra days off in return for working more hours each workday. Thus, people working alternative schedules can save their precious time, fuel, and energy that would otherwise be spent on their commute.
4. Time to Do Personal Errands During Business Hours
One of the most notable advantages of alternative scheduling is that it allows you to run specific errands that need to be completed during business hours.
For example, suppose the employees need to visit the bank or post office, see a doctor, or book a hair appointment. With alternative work schedules’ flexible work hours, they can easily complete these tasks during general business hours. In contrast, regular shift workers may have to take extra days off to run these errands.
5. Improved Work-Life Balance
Most alternative schedules are designed to improve employees’ work-life balance and well-being. For example, some alternative schedules, such as Flexitour, allow them to work at their own pace; that is, they can decide their start and end times. This way, they are the bosses of their own time.
Similarly, compressed workweek schedules allow workers to have more days off by working a few more hours on workdays; thus, workers can gain extra time off that they can use to pursue their hobbies, spend time with family, or run important errands.
6. Ability to Work During Their Most Productive Hours
Each individual has their own ‘Einstein window’ during which they feel most productive and engaged; thus, peak productivity hours may vary from person to person.
For example, some employees may feel productive during the morning hours, while others may concentrate well during the night hours. For such situations, an alternative work schedule works wonders by allowing employees to work at their convenience.
For instance, flextime, which is a flexible alternative work schedule, enables workers to work when they feel productive without worrying about predefined work timings. Therefore, alternative work schedules give employees more control over their work hours, thus boosting their engagement and commitment to work.
Nowadays, employees are increasingly searching for opportunities that give them more flexibility at work. That’s why many organizations are switching to alternative work schedules to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.
Moreover, employees who are satisfied with their current work schedules are less likely to quit their jobs, thus improving employee retention in the organizations.
How to Implement Alternative Work Schedules Effectively
Determine Which Alternative Schedule Aligns Well
The first step to implementing an alternative work schedule is to decide which work schedule you would like to offer to your employees. You can either choose the 9/80 work schedule or the 4/10 work schedule, which compresses the work hours of a week into fewer days. This way, employees can earn an extra day off in exchange for working extra hours each workday.
Alternatively, you can implement a flexible-type alternative work schedule, such as a gliding schedule, which requires employees to complete 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week but allows them to determine their start and end times each day.
Communicate With Employees
The first and foremost step you should take before implementing any schedule is to ask your employees for feedback on this new schedule. Have a brainstorming session with employees and managers to discuss their views and the challenges they may face. This communication should continue as you help them ease into any schedule to make things smoother.
Before finalizing the decision to implement any schedule, it’s imperative that you and your employees are on the same page. You can conduct a vote to better understand the preferences and choices of the majority. In fact, in some states like California, the poll must be conducted via secret ballot before implementing any alternative work schedule, and at least 2/3 of the vote must be in favor of having the schedule in place.
Before permanently implementing the schedule, it’s a good practice to have a short trial period to better assess the suitability of the particular alternative work schedule in your organization. This short trial will give you a holistic view of this schedule and help you evaluate its pros, cons, and challenges. After the trial run, you can also gather feedback from all employees to understand their views.
Despite the schedule you choose to implement, you should document all the rules and procedures as a formal employee policy. This policy should consist of the guidelines related to the schedule working, days off, PTO policy, overtime pay, etc. This standard policy will work as a handy document for employees during times of confusion or conflict.
Use the Tools to Implement It Hassle-Free
Whether you opt for a flexible or compressed workweek-type schedule, it’s imperative to track the exact work hours of employees. For example, in the gliding schedule, employees can start their work at their convenience each day, but they should complete 40 hours per week. To track whether employees have worked the required time, you can leverage efficient time-tracking software that can accurately capture employees’ work hours.
When a company implements an alternative work schedule, employees may face some challenges during the transition phase. Thus, HR is advised to regularly check with employees if they find this schedule easy to adapt or if they’re facing major challenges or roadblocks.
Additionally, HR should support an open line of communication and maintain an open-door policy for employees so that they don’t hesitate to contact HR or even their respective managers in case of any issues with the new schedule.
Alternative work schedule allows employees to achieve better work-life balance and flexibility to work, which increases their job satisfaction, improves engagement, and reduces employee turnover. Moreover, these alternative work schedules help them become more productive and engaged in their respective roles, which benefits the organization in the long-term.
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