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Making flexibility in business a win-win

Just utter the word flexibility and some managers will roll their eyes. Who really wants to supervise an employee who works a reduced or flexible schedule?

But flexibility has been a way for some companies to solve a problem. One call center, 1800-Contacts, was experiencing a whopping 140 percent turnover. It asked its employees for their suggestions for a solution. Their answer: flexibility. The company developed a software that let its employees work from home. They get rewarded on attendance. Turnover is down to only 30 percent.

Today, I wrote about some interesting forays into flexibility by other companies who used it to solve a business need.

 


The Miami Herald

Flexibility is key for keeping good employees

By Cindy Krischer Goodman
balancegal@gmail.com

   Jim Kaufman, left, managing principal/founder of Kaufman Rossin, an accounting firm, works sometimes from his home. Kaufman holds a meeting with Wolfgang H. Pinther, market supervisor, and Janet Kyle Altman, principal director of marketing at his Coconut Grove home.
CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Jim Kaufman, left, managing principal/founder of Kaufman Rossin, an accounting firm, works sometimes from his home. Kaufman holds a meeting with Wolfgang H. Pinther, market supervisor, and Janet Kyle Altman, principal director of marketing at his Coconut Grove home.
When I had my first two kids a year apart, it became challenging to keep up with the deadlines and long hours that the news business required. After a few days of not seeing my little ones before they went to bed, I considered quitting. Instead, I asked my manager for a reduced schedule.

That was the original definition of flexibility, an accommodation for a working mom. Fifteen years later, the conversation has changed. Today, flexibility is about the bottom line, a solution to a business challenge.

“Today, companies are using flexibility to help drive business results,” says Ellen Galinsky, president of Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit that conducts research on the changing workforce. “There is no one kind of flexibility that’s right for all. The solution has to fit the problem.”

Of course, some businesses brush aside workplace concerns in the midst of an economic recession and are focused only on making the next sales target. But the changing workforce makes ignoring flexibility as a solution difficult for others to ignore: Employees are struggling with elder care issues, unsustainable long work hours, a desire to phase into retirement or conflicts that arise when both parents work.

When Bon Secours, with 20,000 employees, realized its workforce of experienced nurses was aging, it introduced scheduling options for those transitioning into retirement.

 

Read more.

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