The truth is there is no real return on employee engagement, engagement is the return on doing the right things and higher levels of engagement correspond with higher levels of profitability.
Here’s a test…let’s say you own a business or manage a group of people…some of your employees approach you and ask about the possibility of arranging work schedules that have some flexibility. Do you hear threat or opportunity in the request? If you hear threat you are probably biased towards wanting as much control as possible over your employees. If you hear opportunity you are probably biased towards anything that will make the business more profitable.
Does this sound like a gross over generalization? It probably is but it is with the intention of making a point. As employers our minds are often locked into patterns that suggest control and profitability go hand in hand. Not so.
Last week I was fortunate enough to receive a last minute invitation to attend a luncheon meeting sponsored by the Mount Baker chapter of Society for Human Resource Management. The topic was flexible work schedules, not exactly a brand new idea but the speaker Dianna Gould took an in-depth look at the potential profitability impact of schedules that produced a win/win for both employer and employee. Wait…I thought flex time was an employee benefit?
Are you aware that the replacement cost for replacing an employee that doesn’t work out is on average 1.5 times their annual salary, when you take into consideration the cost of recruiting, training and lost productivity. This fact alone would be enough to have most managers or employers open to considering measures that could encourage good employees to stay if something could be done to accommodate their scheduling needs. That is unless these same managers or employers think of flexible work schedules as a merely a benefit. Benefits of course go on the liability side of the balance sheet, they detract from profitability.
To be fair there is a case to be made for flexible work schedules being a benefit, but it is pretty weak. When you throw in the cost associated with replacing an employee this weakness is exposed. When you throw in the cost associated with replacing a really productive employee it is time to question the motives of that same manager or employer who won’t consider flexible scheduling.
Look, if I am a highly capable person who knows their value in the market place I have no compunction about approaching my employer to request a work schedule that will allow me to respond to some personal need I may have, especially if it will allow me to continue to perform work I enjoy with people I enjoy in an organization I respect. However, as that same highly capable person I know I have options. While it might be temporarily inconvenient to find another employer I will, certainly when I can see there is no business necessity in the work schedule I am being asked to adhere to and I have what I consider to be pressing personal considerations.
As is often the case with my writing it may appear that I am exhibiting favoritism towards employees, sort of an anti-employer stance. No! What I am is anti-stupid and frequently I find that employers or managers are either unwilling to reconsider what they think is the way it must be, or unaware of these beliefs.
So here we go, I am going to send you to a couple of websites that contain way more information that I can possibly squeeze into the space I have available, or that you have time for now anyway.
First… as the manager or employer you need to be able to consider flexible work schedules as a business strategy. Holding it as a benefit significantly undervalues the upside to this approach.
Second…watch this little video, it is about 3 minutes and I know you have that much time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUz2hH_T1nE,
Third… spend some time after watching the video to consider whether more flexible work schedules might work in your organization as a practical matter. Maybe there are some schedules that need to stay fixed. Remember, I am anti-stupid and that means don’t go jumping just because I suggest you jump.
Fourth…here are a couple of websites where you should spend some time, the When Work Works Toolkit developed by SHRM in conjunction with the Families and Work Institute and also Life Meets Work. LMW is a consulting company but they have lots of free stuff on their site that you can use to create an educational foundation for yourself.
Finally, don’t go crazy and turn your workplace upside down, start slow and most importantly convince yourself of the benefits.