In Checking Priorities, Now May Be the Time for Flextime
"Personally, I think it is time credit unions make more of an effort in coming up with flexible work programs," said D. Hilton CEO David Hilton. "Part of the reason is that with dual-earner couples as the new norm, taking jobs that are not the typical nine to five hours makes sense to families in today's environment."
In general, workplace flexibility covers scheduling of hours worked, including nontraditional start and end times, compressed work weeks, job sharing, part-time work and telecommuting.
Given the competitive landscape in California, Technology Credit Union Human Resources Senior Vice President LeeAnne Giblin said despite the challenges, flexible workplace arrangements are well worth the effort.
The credit union not only has a job-sharing policy but also offers telecommuting and is set to launch a new voluntary time off program, whereby staff can voluntarily request a reduced schedule (unpaid or partially unpaid) for a specified period of time.
"Some employees may want to take advantage of this during the summer when their kids are off school. They may be able to afford the reduced pay if they aren't paying for that extra week of summer camp," said Giblin. "So this can be a win-win program. The challenge for us is that we are leanly staffed and not all employees may be able to take advantage of it."
The program is slated to run through the rest of the year, and Giblin said HR is doing all it can to make it work for as many employees as possible.
"This is a perfect time to roll something like this out because traffic volume is slower, and it's a creative way to retain employees while helping the payroll a little," said Giblin. "We also allow employees to cash out their PTO to help supplement their income. It's about being as creative as we can. This may turn out to be a once in a lifetime opportunity or it may be something we can keep in place. We'll see."
Hilton said that as employees' need to work differently and work-life balance demands increase, companies offering some degree of workplace flexibility may be more attractive to potential employees.
"It might not work for all positions in the credit union, for example, front-line staff, but it's a matter of really figuring out what will work best for employees while ensuring there is coverage so that members continue to receive the same quality service," said Hilton. "That could mean simply being more flexible from the perspective that employees can work anywhere between time A and time B, and it comes down to making sure there is always someone there to help the members."
According to the Society of Human Resource Management 2008 employee benefits survey, flexible working benefits are a cost-effective way to help employees balance their work and personal lives. In addition, the benefits help organizations attract and retain high-quality talent and are a key factor in employee satisfaction.
The move to make flexible work arrangements a workplace norm may be gaining momentum. Georgetown University Law Center-based think tank Workplace Flexibility 2010 recently released a report, "Public Policy Platform on Flexible Work Arrangements," to provide solutions for expanding access to such programs.
The report finds that flexible arrangements can be as manageable and predictable as possible for both employees and employers. According to the report, because of the range of options employees have in scheduling their work time, offices are often able to provide customer service over a greater span of hours. In addition, employees with access to flexible work arrangements tend to be more satisfied with their jobs and appear more willing to work hard to help their employers succeed.
Hilton said the reason flexible arrangements are not more popular in workplaces in general is that they require a lot of trust in staffers and many wonder if they would harm employee morale if not all employees were eligible to participate.