Summer is coming, bringing along with it hot weather, beach trips, television reruns, and—as a new report reveals—increased demand for flexibility. The findings come from XpertHR, which cites workplace flexibility as one of five methods to boost employee engagement, especially during the summer.
"In the last several years, workplace flexibility has emerged as another employee benefit of choice," XpertHR says in a press release. "Interest in workplace flexibility can increase during the summer when employees want to spend more time with their families, participate in summer activities and achieve work-life balance. Summer is a good time for companies to offer flexible schedules, reduced schedules, telecommuting and compressed workweeks."
Similarly, a 2012 OfficeTeam survey found that flexible schedules are the most coveted summer benefit, ranking far above summer Fridays, employee get-togethers, and relaxed dress codes. Meanwhile, 75 percent of HR managers said that their companies offered flexible schedules during the summer.
Of course, flexibility shouldn't be just a "summer benefit": It should be a year-round attribute of every company's corporate culture that increases employee productivity. But while access to flex should be constant, the flexibility thumbprint of each employee should be dynamic. In other words, employees need access to different types of flexibility at different times. Employee flexibility needs can change with age, with life chapter, or even with the seasons.
During the summer, for instance, an employee might need to use TimeShift to accommodate a wonky summer school drop-off and pickup schedule. Or perhaps summer is their slow season at work and they’d benefit from a few DeskPlus days to focus on longer term creative projects. Or they might even need to work PartTime for the summer, reducing their hours while still staying on the advancement track.
No matter what their flexibility thumbprint, and no matter where or when they work, employees can use flexibility to maximize their productivity, even during alluringly good weather. A recent Workplace Options survey found that "it is possible for employees to maintain a high level of productivity throughout the summer while simultaneously finding time for personal enjoyment," SHRM reported. "There will always be distractions and seasonal trends that affect vacation schedules," Workplace Options President and COO Alan King told SHRM. "But employees who are empowered to deal with their personal lives and understand that they are accountable to get their job done are going to be more effective workers."