The Benefits of Flextime (to Employers)

Last Updated Jul 22, 2011 10:48 AM EDT

When you think of your ideal job, what's comes to mind? Great salary? Potential to move up? Well, if you're like 95 percent of employees, it's flexibility, according to a Discover study.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only about half of employers often flextime--the ability to work a flexible schedule. Yet, flexibility is the word du jour, at the tip of every employee's tongue, and possibly as desirable to today's overworked employees as, dare I say, sleep. And a recent report by Corporate Voices for Working Families found that companies that champion flexibility yield a number of benefits. Here are five:
  • Workers are more likely to stay put if their company offers flexibility. About 80% of Accenture employees said that their ability to manage work and home life affects their career choices and their desire to stay at the company. Of respondents to AstraZeneca's flexibility survey, 80% of women said that flexibility was very important in their decision to stay at the company as did 61% of men. Another 23% of men and women said that it was somewhat important.
  • Flexibility is a cheap way for companies to "reward" employees. When Accenture employers were asked to compare flexibility to other benefits or rewards, flexibility ranked in the top three, challenging the notion that compensation and advancement are employees' primary motivators.
  • Employees have a greater sense of work-life balance. An IBM survey of 42,000 employees in 79 countries found that work-life balance-of which flexibility is a significant component-is the second leading reason for potentially leaving IBM, behind compensation and benefits. Since the survey IBM has beefed up their flexibility policy and found improved retention.
  • Employees with flex-times tend to be happier at work. After Eli Lilly instituted a flex week option, a survey found that the employees with the most flexibility and control over their hours reported more job satisfaction. There was no difference in supervisors' performance rating.
  • Flex-time may cut medical costs too. Employees at Bristol-Myers Squibb who use flexible work arrangements scored, on average, 30 percent lower in stress and burnout than those without flexibility.
    Does your company offer flexibility? Have you seen any benefits--or negatives?
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    Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for the New York Times, national magazines and websites. Follow her on twitter. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Canon in 2D.
    • Laurie Tarkan

      Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist who writes for The New York Times and many national magazines. She is a contributing editor at Fit Pregnancy magazine and the author of three books, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility, Perfect Hormone Balance for Pregnancy and My Mother's Breast: Daughters Ace Their Mothers' Cancer.. You can follow her on Twitter at @LaurieTarkan.

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