Working for Balance
How to ask for flextime.
As work continues to squeeze out more of our energy and time, we want flexibility. Young millennial workers expect it, and baby boomers are asking for part-time work hours as they transition into retirement. While not a miracle prescription, flextime offers some relief for those of us seriously suffering from the inability to manage time against work and family demands.
According to a recent study conducted by Society for Human Resource Management, 56 percent of companies now offer flextime options to their employees. While flextime is not viable in every work environment, a majority of employees will choose a flextime schedule when this option is offered by their employer.
The beauty of flextime is that it can also benefit the employer. Recent surveys reflect that employees who telecommute from home or have alternate work hours tend to be more loyal to their company, demonstrate high productivity and are generally more optimistic. Not only are they more satisfied with their job, but they also work more intensely. Since flextime tends to increase productivity, it is cost effective for the employer.
Companies offering flexible work schedules, attract high performing employees who, in turn, value the company’s respect for work life balance. Flextime can enable employees to schedule medical appointments or child care arrangements during daytime hours, which tend to prevent unscheduled absences.
If you are interested in pursuing flextime hours with your employer, here are some general tips. The key to winning flextime is to clearly demonstrate to your employer how you can continue to add value to the organization.
It is important to have the right attitude. You are not automatically entitled to a flexible work arrangement, even if you are a high performer at your company. Carefully assess your work environment and evaluate when it’s critical for you to be physically present in the office for important meetings and projects. Think carefully about your time challenges and how it relates to family demands. Then begin to formulate a plan that will support the employer’s requirements and your family commitments. At this point, you may want to have an informal discussion with your employer about your proposal.
Your boss is more likely to take your proposal for flextime hours more seriously if you present an organized and well thought out written plan. Be sure your proposal initially highlights how you can continue to perform your work at a high level and increase your contribution to the division or department. Then outline your proposed options for flextime hours. To expand the options your employer can choose from, consider more than one flextime arrangement. Even if there isn’t a current company policy for flextime, you can still propose a plan to your employer.
The biggest worry for an employer who is considering flextime hours is whether you will meet your responsibilities. There is also concern that your flex schedule will increase the workload of other employees. Suggest a trial period of three or four months, and identify how your performance will be measured. Most importantly, reinforce how you will keep the communication channels open during the time you are not in the office.
After spending time drafting a proposal, it’s natural to want an immediate response. Your boss may need a few weeks to evaluate your flextime request and may also have to run it by a more senior manager. You might also need to wait for final approval from the human resources department. It could be several weeks before you get the final word on your flextime request, so be patient.
As the forces of technology, the economy and the competitive job market push us to work more hours, work time will continue to compete with family time for parenting, elder care or pursuing advanced training and education. Flextime at least offers some hope for managing both work and family life.