Are flexible work arrangements right for your Red Bank business?
Several Monmouth County employers, including Saint Barnabas Health Care System in Oceanport, and Move For Hunger in Neptune, are included in Flexjobs’ list of the Best 100 New Jersey Companies for Flexible Jobs.
According to a 2015 survey by WorldatWork and Flexjobs, 80 percent of businesses report that they offer flexible work arrangements to employees. The statistics aren’t surprising given that workplace flexibility can be beneficial to both employers and employees. While workers report that flexibility helps maintain a work/life balance, it is shown to have a positive impact on employee recruitment, productivity, absenteeism rates, and retention.
Benefits of flexible work arrangements
In essence, flexible work arrangements allow employees to have greater input regarding when, where, and how work is done. Examples include 4-day work weeks, flextime, and job sharing. Telecommuting is one of the most popular arrangements with 3.7 million employees currently working from home at least half the time, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. The figure represents a 103 percent increase since 2005.
While New Jersey law requires paid family leave and many municipalities have adopted paid sick leave ordinances, flexible work arrangements are completely voluntary. Nonetheless, businesses that do implement workplace flexibility policies must comply with state and federal employment laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
In addition, stereotypes about employees that rely on flexible work arrangements can also lead to potential discrimination or other unlawful conduct claims. Examples include assuming that female workers with flexible work schedules are less committed to their jobs than full-time employees, or assuming that male workers do not, or should not, have significant caregiving responsibilities that require flexibility.
Potential workplace flexibility issues to address
Given the potential pitfalls, ad hoc flexible work options can do more harm than good. However, Flexjobs found that 64 percent have no formal policies in place. For businesses that allow workplace flexibility, it is imperative to have policies and procedures in place. Issues to address include:
- The job functions and positions that are eligible for flexible work arrangements;
- The factors to be evaluated in deciding an employee’s request for a flexible work arrangement;
- The specific options available, i.e. number of days/hours the employee may telecommute, potential work shifts, and compressed workweek schedules.
- The timekeeping/recordkeeping requirements;
- The provision of office equipment and technology for home offices;
- The criteria against which workers taking advantage of flexible work schedules will be measured and held accountable.
Additionally, it is often advisable that any approved flexible work arrangement start as a “pilot program,” which is then reevaluated after several weeks to determine if the company and worker’s needs are being satisfied.