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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

Flexible hours matter more than pay to some workers, report finds

To compete for the best talent, employers must offer arrangements such as telecommuting and alternative hours, experts say.

Parents say workday flexibility is more important than

Parents say workday flexibility is more important than salary. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Geber86

Offering employees flexible work options could be the difference between keeping them and losing them.

In fact, 62 percent of working professionals have left or considered leaving a job because it didn’t have work flexibility, according to a recent survey by Boulder, Colorado-based FlexJobs.

Not every company can offer flexible work options across the board, and finding the right balance for your company takes planning — but in the end it could prove to be a great recruitment and retention tool.

“In today’s workplace, if employers want to compete for the best talent, they need to be less rigid,” says Brie Weiler Reynolds, a senior career specialist at FlexJobs, an online job service for people looking for telecommuting or flexible jobs.

In fact, when evaluating a potential job, working parents say work-life balance and flexible schedules are more important than salary, according to FlexJobs, which has seen flexible-job listings on its site increase 17 percent year over year.

Telecommuting remains the most popular form of flexible work, according to the survey. It allows an employee to use technology to potentially work from anywhere, says Reynolds.

Other sought-after options include flexible scheduling (ie., employees’ schedules may change on a weekly basis based on their needs), alternative scheduling (working outside of traditional work hours) and a part-time schedule, she says.

To be sure, the type of schedule your company offers could be determined on a role-by-role basis, says Reynolds.

Talk to your employees about what they’re looking for to better understand their needs, says Ted Collins, a senior vice president and branch manager for Robert Half Management Resources, based in the firm’s Manhattan office.

“Each organization has to figure out for themselves what is the right path,” he says. “It’s important to stay open-minded.”

It’s also important to communicate with employees, he says.

“Employers not willing to have the conversation or consider it as part of their offerings may have a harder time retaining or attracting staff,” says Collins.

But you must weigh employees’ desire for work-life balance with the needs of the organization, says John Coverdale, president of The Center for Workplace Solutions, a Blue Point-based human resources management firm, and faculty director of the HR management program at Stony Brook University.

“The foundation is to really be mindful of regular business practices and needs,” taking into account such factors as peak hours and time-sensitive deadlines, he says.

For the most part, employees understand what the needs of the business are and are willing to work around that, he says.

With that said, smaller businesses may want to try it informally at first, perhaps giving employees more control over when they start and end their workday, says Coverdale.

If it works well, perhaps consider adopting a formal program.

Marcum LLP, an accounting and business advisory firm with offices in Melville, has a formal alternative work arrangement program, says chief human capital officer Claudio Diaz.

An employee can come to the firm with a suggested work arrangement that could include flexible work hours typically outside of traditional hours or a compressed workweek, he says. The request is evaluated based on the employee’s role and the company’s needs.

Marcum has close to 1,500 employees in 28 offices, including 210 employees on Long Island. Approximately 14 percent have formalized alternative work arrangements, he says.

The key to making it work is training leaders on what flexibility means, he says. They shouldn’t be so focused on what they experienced when they were growing their careers, he says, but rather on current needs, because “the workforce is completely different today.”

Top 4 reasons people seek flexible work

78% work-life balance

49% family

46% time savings

45% commute stress

Source: FlexJobs

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