Employee

Using Workplace Flexibility as an Employee Perk

Using workplace flexibility as an employee perk is one of the strategies that can be used to motivate employees at no financial cost to the company. Quite a number of strategies exist for introducing a flexible workday into a place of employment. These scenarios include telecommuting from home daily, telecommuting from home on a partial weekly basis, a four-day work week, and staggered starting and ending hours.

The strategy that any company implements needs to be one that will work well for them while encouraging the growth and expansion of the company. This type of strategy won’t be appropriate for all companies or even for all departments within a company. No matter which specific type of workplace flexibility you incorporate into the company, certain advantages and disadvantages will be attached to your decision.

The Advantages of Workplace Flexibility

Several advantages are attached to the implementation of a flexible work week or schedule. Each of these advantages can lead to a renewed growth in the company along with enhanced profitability.

Workplace Flexibility: Morale

Perhaps the greatest impact it has is to increases the morale of the employees who are able to partake of this plan. A higher level of morale equates to increased productivity.

Workplace Flexibility: Team Management

The introduction of workplace flexibility offers company managers an opportunity to utilize their team members according to their skill set rather than relying strictly on the number of hours that they clock in. If everyone is staggered according to the hours they work, managers can then assign tasks according to an employee’s ability to perform the task. Rather than assigning a task simply because everything else is already farmed out to other employees who are working the same schedule, managers will experience flexibility with assignment scheduling.

Workplace Flexibility: Focus on Task

Due to a streamlined employee workforce in which some staff members are working from home and others are coming in at a different hour, attention to task should be increased. Employees should readily be able to focus on an assigned task since fewer distractions should present themselves. The manager or supervisor should also be able to tell more clearly whether an employee is actually working or not.

Workplace Flexibility: Employee Turnover

Employee turnover typically decreases once workplace flexibility enters into the company’s picture. Employees do not need to leave the company if they develop a need for scheduling flexibility due to family obligations. Plus, Absenteeism is usually reduced as well since employees have the opportunity to be flexible when scheduling doctor and dental appointments along with other necessary meetings.

The Disadvantages of Workplace Flexibility

Several disadvantages are associated with workplace flexibility. However, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Nonetheless, employers who are considering incorporating a flexible work schedule should be aware of them in order to safeguard against them.

Workplace Flexibility: Productivity

Some companies might discover that a flexible work week leads to an inconsistency in productivity. Employees might not be able to coordinate with the employees they need due to a varied work schedule. Additionally, workers at home might experience a tendency to ease up on their productivity under the mentality “while the cat is away, the mice will play.”

Workplace Flexibility: Trust

It’s important for an employee to have earned the trust of the owner or manager prior to being given the opportunity to participate in this type of experience. If the employee is chosen based upon his desire to participate rather than on his trustworthiness, he might exercise a bit too much flexibility. This employee might not come into work at the assigned time each day because he is under the belief that times are now flexible.

Workplace Flexibility: Training and Preparation

Unfortunately, some level of new training must be incorporated in order for a business change such as a flexible workplace schedule to be successful. Managers and supervisors will need to learn how to assimilate these changes into the work day so that productivity continues seamlessly. This training will take time and money to implement and therefore, some businesses might not find it to be cost effective.

Overview of Workplace Flexibility

In general, introducing workplace flexibility into a business leads to a greater level of involvement by the employees who are experiencing a higher level of workplace contentment. Additionally, the profitability of the company surges with renewed growth as a direct result of increased productivity. Plus, an increase in the quality of the work is generally experienced.

Intro: Incorporating a number of workplace perks into a business can lead to enhanced productivity and profitability. Does the use of workplace flexibility as an employee perk provide these facets?

By Susan M. Keenan ©2009

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How to Host a Workplace Holiday Party Without Inviting a Lawsuit

Oh, Christmas: the time of year when you drink hot apple cider, schedule sleigh rides, and worry about holiday-spawned lawsuits. If you’re like most managers, you don’t know how to tackle the season without increasing your company’s liability. You might have read that it’s illegal to put up Christmas decorations, or that you should instruct your employees to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” but is that true? How can you keep your company protected without having to say “Bah, Humbug?” Here’s what you need to know about religious discrimination during the holiday season.

Christmas Trees Aren’t Illegal

Christmas trees are not a crime, nor are menorahs, Christmas songs, Kwanzaa decorations, snowflakes, or any other holiday-themed baubles — even if they’re religious. You and your employees are still allowed to celebrate, whether that’s baking sugar cookies or putting up a mini-Nativity scene on your desk. However, you need to understand the specifics of employment law and religion to make sure you don’t end up on Santa’s naughty list.

Religious Discrimination

You can’t discriminate against your employees based on their religious beliefs and practices. You also can’t allow your employees to harass or discriminate against their coworkers. The law recognizes several types of discrimination: disparate treatment, disparate impact, and hostile work environments. All three have been illegal since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Disparate Treatment

It’s illegal to treat people of one religion differently from people of another faith. For example, you can’t give Christian employees Christmas Day off of work and tell all of your Jewish employees they’re required to cover those shifts. You are allowed to let people take off for the holidays, but you can’t set the schedule based on religion.

Disparate Impact

As a manager, you have to be careful about your decisions in the workplace. If you set policy that impacts one religious group more than others, you’re still breaking the law. For example, if your company gave everyone free hams for Christmas, this would impact Muslim and Jewish employees, who traditionally don’t eat pork products. Likewise, you can’t permit holiday decorations except for unlit candles, because some religious groups celebrate winter holidays by displaying candles. It’s reasonable to tell staff the fire code won’t allow lit candles in the building — but not to ban unlit candles entirely. It can be tricky to avoid this type of discrimination because you can accidentally impact your employees even with the best of intentions. It’s best to use a committee or outside resource to make sure you’re staying inclusive.

Harassment

The most apparent form of religious discrimination is harassment, and it’s easy to run into trouble here. An employee might feel harassed by excessive holiday celebrations, especially if they’re pervasive or evangelical. A Nativity can be a lovely Christmas decoration for the office. A banner proclaiming that “Christ died for our sins” would be inappropriate. Likewise, an employee inviting the office to celebrate Christmas mass is appropriate; allowing that employee to send repeated invitations could turn into harassment. Make sure everyone is celebrating the holidays in a spirit of good cheer.

Sexual Harassment

Do your workplace holiday blow-outs include alcohol? You might want to rethink that policy. Many religions discourage or forbid their members to imbibe. Employees from those religious backgrounds won’t feel like attending a drunken end-of-the-year holiday party. Plus, you’re setting your company up for a slew of sexual harassment complaints or even legal liability for accidents caused by post-party driving under the influence. Redirect the alcohol budget towards better food — or bigger bonuses.

The Grinch hasn’t stolen holiday spirit from the office. Instead, today’s employment laws make sure everyone feels included in winter celebrations. As long as you’re willing to put in some effort, you can host a rocking holiday party that raises morale without leaving anyone out in the cold. Creating a safe environment for all of your staff is indeed the best present you can get them.

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How to Identify (And Resolve) Communication Problems at Work

Every job depends on communication, whether with customers, suppliers or co-workers. Poor communication leads to a stressful working environment and decreased productivity. Companies invest time and resources into improving communication, yet sometimes little seems to change. That is because the first step is to identify the type of communication problem, and then to devise an action plan, or else you risk wasting resources trying to solve the wrong problem. You need to identify whether the issues are systemic, organizational, interpersonal or personal.

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