Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, explains that flexi-hours can be a win-win for employers and employees if implemented correctly.
In news that should shock no-one, Irish people want more flexibility in their working lives. It is hardly groundbreaking to assume that people prefer to choose their own working hours based on their own lives and the times they feel they are more productive but now we have further evidence to back that assumption.
The study, carried out by McDonald’s Ireland, found that over half of Irish workers prioritise the flexibility to work the hours and patterns that suit them best when defining a “good job”.
Nearly half of people (48 per cent) would prefer to start work before 9 am and finish before 5 pm. In fact, less than a fifth of people (23 per cent) said they considerable 9 am to 5 pm to be their preferred working hours. Starting at 8 am and finishing by 4 pm were the working hours preferred by most people (31 per cent), while 17 per cent of people would like to work from 7 am to 3 pm – talk about early birds! As well as that, 32 per cent of people would prefer a longer workday for a shorter workweek i.e. working 10 hours four days a week instead of 8 hours five days a week.
This study, conducted by YouGov in July and August, spoke to 1,000 Irish adults aged 16 and over. McDonald’s carried it out, as it employs over 5,000 people in the country and it wanted to understand how the working world will shift here in years to come, particularly as the Central Bank has predicted that the number of Irish people in employment will rise to a record 2.3 million over the next two years.
Giving employees flexible hours seems to make sense. Of those who work flexibly, 82 per cent said that flexible working makes them more positive towards their job, while 79 per cent say it will result in them staying with their current employer for longer.
That’s all fine and good, you say, but you have no idea as a manager or business owner how to go about increasing flexible hours without the whole place falling apart. It is completely normal to be sceptical. Any major change in a company takes a lot of careful planning, and introducing flexible hours is no exception.
Firstly, to introduce flexible hours, as a manager, you need to be able to trust your staff. This will not work if you spend your time paranoid that your employees are trying to trick you or catch you out in some way.
Secondly, set out clear policies on hours of work. Agree times that all employees will be working so they can communicate with their colleagues as necessary, for example between 11 am and 1 pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Ensure that all meetings are set for between these times.
Next, introduce a system which means that all employees can clearly input the hours that they have worked. This way, you know exactly who has logged what hours and no-one can claim hundreds of hours of overtime with absolutely no record. Plus if particular employees are logging a lot of overtime, it will help you to identify areas of the business that might need more resources and staffing.
Finally, give it time. There will be hiccups, and it will not run smoothly immediately. Ensure there are open communication paths in your organisation so that any problems are dealt with swiftly.