Why SMEs should embrace flexible working hours

By Kathleen Aoki

It seems the concept of the nine-to-five workday has gone the way of the dinosaur in recent years, as technology has stretched the workplace beyond the traditional office environment.

By allowing employees to be more flexible in how they earn their forty hours each week by working full or part-time from home, employers can improve productivity, reduce turnover and create an environment where employees are happy to turn up for work each day.

Sound good? Here are a few ways flexible working hours can help your business grow as well as improve your bottom line.

Increase productivity

If you force your employees to show up at a certain time each morning, it creates the sheep-like mentality that simply by being there, they are doing their job. On the other hand, a flexible working environment reinforces the concept that work is more about completing tasks than filling a cubicle.

Employers will also notice less tardiness. In a flexible work environment, employees can adjust work hours to avoid high traffic or commute times. Simply by leaving the house 30 minutes or an hour later, workers can reduce the amount of time waiting - time that could be spent more productively at the office.

Reduce turnover

As employees' lives change, priorities change as well. Your devoted worker may become a parent, reducing their ability to work until 5 or 6 p.m. each night. Little things like being able to leave work earlier each day could make all the difference for a parent who needs to get home to take care of a new baby.

Since finding and training replacement employees can cost a small business thousands of dollars, allowing a loyal worker to work more flexible hours is a no-brainer. Additionally, a business that retains workers over long periods of time is more likely to grow and be successful than one that has to regularly adjust to new employees.

Improve job satisfaction

A boss who cares is a boss workers want to please. When employees feel they are working for a flexible employer, they tend to be more generous with their time and efforts. In fact, studies have shown that employees who are given flex time are more likely to put in extra hours than those with firmly set work hours. One study even showed employees with flex time are happier, more loyal and less stressed.

As boundaries between work and home continue to blur, employers need to expand their boundaries of what an office is as well.

In addition to the above arguments, perhaps one of the biggest reasons for SMEs to allow flexible work hours is the fact that savvy competitors may already be doing so. To compete for the best workers now and into the future, SMEs may have no other choice but to embrace the flexible working concept.

But given the many benefits of flex time for both employers and workers, it's a choice that shouldn't be hard to make.


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