How Does the Employer Benefit?
The employer benefits in several ways, one of which is a happy, productive employee. Workers who are given the flexibility to balance their lives have less stress and are generally happier, healthier, and more productive. Time off during the week allows them to schedule appointments without adjusting their work schedule. The result is that they miss less scheduled days of work. They are refreshed and energized on the days that they do work, and it's a win-win situation for everyone.
Alternate work schedules are not an added expense to you, and surveys show that it is the perk that employees want most. Workers who report high levels of job dissatisfaction are frustrated about their work and life balance. Giving an employee the flexibility to manage his life is a big morale booster. Your company will be considered a premier employer if you give workers this valuable benefit.
Reducing hours will usually decrease or eliminate an employee's benefits, based on your company's policy. Employees who want to cut their hours at work should know this and acknowledge it as a fair compromise.
Any change in hours, pay, or benefits should be written up in an agreement and signed by both you and the employee. Employees paid by the hour should maintain their hourly rate. Obviously, those paid on a salary basis will see a cut in their weekly rate. The document should indicate that the schedule change will be a trial period for evaluation — three months is a reasonable amount of time. If it is successful, the arrangement should be up for renewal annually. You may want to indicate that the work agreement can be withdrawn by either party during the year. If you do so, indicate how much advance notice should be given. It would not be fair to an employee to tell him on a Friday that he has to go back to a Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M. work schedule the following week.
Offering alternate work schedules is a sure way to increase your employee retention. Benefits like this are hard to come by, and for those employees who really value them, they're likely to stay for the long haul. One thing that workers struggle with is finding rewarding work with a nontraditional schedule.