How to implement a new flexitime policy in your organisation
Flexitime is a hugely popular benefit, as it enables employees to work at their most productive and efficient, as well as facilitating an improved work-life balance, the achievement of personal goals and reducing stressors. Because of these engagement benefits, employers can also benefit from flexitime, through higher retention and cost savings associated with a productive, happy workforce. As such, implementing a flexitime policy is a can add a lot of value to the workplace. This article takes you through ten steps to effectively implementing such a policy.
Understand the need for flexitime in your organisation.
The first step to implementing a flexitime policy is to understand exactly what might be needed from employees and managers. This information can come from several sources, but most typically is sourced from employee engagement surveys, exit interviews, stay interviews or simply leaders and Human Resources (HR) keeping one ear to the ground and listening to what employees are asking for.
If leadership is proactively considering flexitime, then they should survey employees to understand their opinions about flexible working. In some cases, it might well be that flexitime might not be an immediate priority, so it helps to check.
Consider the legal requirements.
Many countries factor in flexible working into various aspects of employment law, such as a statutory right to request it, or how to implement flexible working in such a way as to remove any risk of discrimination or inequality. HR leaders must take time to read up on these standards, developing flexitime policies which are fully aligned. This approach reduces the need to go backwards and forwards developing a policy which might be beneficial to the organisation but carries unacceptable legal risk.
Get buy-in from senior leaders.
A flexitime policy is only going to be truly successful if senior leadership understand what it is and why it is important. Before settling down to develop a policy, consult with leaders and train them on the benefits of flexitime. Go through their thoughts and concerns, and present flexitime as what it is, which is a truly win-win scenario for employees and the business. Leadership buy-in will give a flexitime policy flight and clout. It will ensure the policy is regarded as a key offering which deserves significant internal PR to make it a success.
Develop a flexitime offering.
Begin the development of a flexitime offering by using the feedback and ‘wish list’ gleaned from employees and aligning it to legal requirements. Once this has been done, HR teams can decide which elements of flexitime might work best.
Examples of flexitime can be compressed hours; where a ‘standard’ working week is condensed in to fewer, longer days, job sharing; where a role can be split into two part time jobs, flexible hours; where employers can pick and choose their shift according to personal commitments, and remote or hybrid work; which involves working from home. Deciding which one(s) to focus on provides the backbone of the full policy.
Work out the details and policy.
The full flexitime policy should be comprehensive but at the same time, easy to read and be helpful for all employees. The policy should include a summary and the objective, then the contents. The policy itself should set out several things, including but not limited to:
- The scope of the policy (who can benefit from flexitime).
- Types of flexitime on offer.
- How to request flexitime, and how long it takes for a request to be responded to.
- How contracts might need to be varied.
- How flexitime is managed and measured, as well how it is inputted into payroll.
- How many times flexitime can be requested by one employee.
- Grounds for refusing a flexitime request.
- An appeals procedure in case a request is refused.
- Appendices with template letters and communications needed.
Consult with employees.
Depending on the local laws, the consultation process can be a legal necessity or simply a moral thing to; to check that employees are happy with the policy. Consultation involves sharing the flexitime policy with employees (or employee representatives or trade unions, depending on the territory) and asking them for feedback or if any amendments are needed.
In a consultation meeting, employees can make representations and offer feedback or request changes to the policy, which are in turn discussed by the leadership team, with amendments being negotiated and sent back for consultation. Once this process has been completed and both sides agree the on the policy, it can be distributed.
Communicate the policy.
Flexitime policies must be communicated clearly, consistently, and quickly. A mixture of communication methods works best, such as an email distribution, information posted to work-based social media, and maybe also communicated in the next available employee meeting or Town Hall.
At this stage, managers must be trained on all aspects of the flexitime as they are the ones who will be responding to requests. This is especially critical if there are legal considerations to offering and accepting flexitime, as a wrong step by a manager here can be especially damaging or costly.
Use a time tracking application to maintain consistency.
One of the challenges with flexitime is that it makes the logging and analysis of working hours a little more challenging, as people are working irregularly, yet there is still the need to ensure that contracted hours are being worked, and other payroll factors such as absence management and vacation requests are being kept on top of.
Flexi time system applications, such as Flex Planner, allow for careful management of flexitime. Flex Planner can record working time, as well as process annual leave and calculate flexitime in real time, factoring in requirements such as breaks and minimum hours. This facilitates accurate reporting and careful management of payroll.
Measure and evaluate.
Time tracking applications can facilitate the measurement of the effectiveness of your flexitime policy, but you can also evaluate its impact by also analysing uptake, what elements of the policy are being used most often, as well as simply soliciting employee feedback. This feedback can then be used to improve the flexitime policy and offering.
Fine tune and sustain.
Act on feedback and measurements to make the flexitime policy as effective as it can be and ultimately a process and benefit which will be regarded as inclusive and beneficial. Sustainment is ensuring the process is championed by managers on an ongoing basis. The best way of doing this is to implement flexitime positively and correctly, thereby giving the benefit a good reputation and ensure its perception as being on the same side as management objectives, as well as aligned to employee needs and wants.
Flexitime is a great benefit to offer, but it involves changes to something very sacrosanct, which is working time and work-life balance. Therefore, having a clear flexitime policy is vital for any workplace. Leaders and HR must ensure the policy is championed by all managers, is not just legally correct but also inclusive and fair and is clearly communicated and easy to use.
Measuring the impact of a flexitime policy can be facilitated using time tracking applications, and this data plus employee feedback can be used to sustain flexitime offerings and make it a popular – and central – component of the organisation’s suite of benefits.