Attracting and retaining skilled and talented employees is crucial to the success of your business. While salary is a key consideration for most potential employees, some are willing to take less in salary in exchange for other workplace benefits. Offering these perks can also give you a competitive advantage in attracting the right employees. Providing the right benefits to employees can also improve employee retention and increase employee loyalty. Some perks can even help reduce operating costs.
Health insurance and paid time off, including vacation time and sick leave, are routinely identified as the two most important and valued benefits. But to give yourself an edge over the competition in attracting and retaining the best and brightest, look beyond these.
In a 2013 poll conducted by Monster.com, 69 percent of respondents said having a flexible work schedule was the most important non-financial benefit. Having a flexible work schedule allows employees to have some input into when and where they work and helps them balance the demands of work with their family lives. Offering flexible schedules as a benefit demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and satisfaction. Small businesses in particular can benefit from offering flexible workplace options. Studies have shown that employees report being more productive and focused at work and are less likely to look for another job within the next year when they can effectively balance work and family. They also tend to have better overall health and less stress.
There are several different types flexible work benefits:
Flex time allows employees to shift their work hours or days to accommodate their schedules while still working a specified number of hours per week or pay period. This could include flexible start and end times or compressing their work week into fewer days. Flex time allows employees some control over their work schedule. Studies show that flexible schedules reduce work-family conflicts and lead to improved function and performance at work. Another benefit of flex time is that it allows employees to commute outside of peak traffic hours or, in the case of compressed work weeks, spend less time per week commuting.
Telecommuting allows employees to choose where they work. Employees may choose to work from home or another location exclusively or they may choose to work from another location only at certain times and spend some of their time on-site. Allowing employees to telecommute eliminates the commute and can save your company money on office space, office supplies, equipment, and utilities. It can also expand your potential labor pool if you are willing to hire employees to telecommute from outside of your immediate area. Technology has played a key role in the ability to allow employees to telecommute. E-mail, Skype, texting, phone, and internal discussion boards have made it easier than ever to maintain effective communication from a remote location. To make telecommuting successful, you need to set specific guidelines in advance, such as any on-site time requirements and required office hours. Set specific, clear goals and establish communications guidelines. Telecommuting may not work well for all employees. For telecommuting to be successful, the employee must be disciplined and be able to self manage.
Job sharing allows two part-time employees to share one full-time position. In most cases, the two employees work on alternating schedules, such as alternating days or weeks or alternating morning and afternoon shifts. Job sharing provides your company with diversity of skills and continuity of coverage. One employee can cover for the other during vacations or days off. To make this situation effective, good communication and teamwork between the two employees is essential. Communicating schedules and responsibilities for each person to the rest of your employees is also important.
Part-time positions are a great way to attract or retain employees who cannot work full time for various reasons, including family obligations or health restrictions. Part-time positions allow employees to balance work and family or pursue an education.
Obviously not all positions are conductive to flexible work arrangements. But with the right employees in the right positions, flexible work benefits can be a win-win situation that will keep your employees happy, less stressed, and productive.