Managing in times of uncertainty can be stressful. During these times, employee stress levels and competing work and personal priorities can make it challenging to remain focused on the job.
Our job as people and Human Resource leaders is to help support employees and leaders and keep them focused and motivated. Equally important is maintaining team morale during these times. Research shows that manager support is a key factor in successfully retaining talent and navigating uncertainty. One way we can influence this is to address work conflicts such as unplanned childcare issues, school closings, needing to care for a sick loved one, etc.
Here are some ideas that you may consider for your employees should they need additional flexibility in their work schedule.
Flextime lets an employee vary when their workday begins or ends.
One key benefit of flextime is that it provides better work-life balance for employees. Particularly in times of uncertainty or crisis, employees may have conflicts or considerations in their personal lives that can easily be accommodated with flextime. Unlike part-time work, flextime does not affect income because the employee remains working the same number of hours.
As well, providing flexible work arrangements during stressful periods can go a long way in building strong relationships with your employees, retaining your talent, positively influencing engagement and increasing morale, which should be top-of-mind for people and HR leaders as they manage through a crisis.
This means working part of a shift early in the morning and the other part later in the evening. However, this type of arrangement may not be ideal for roles that require coverage of core business hours. An arrangement of this type might look like a start of 6 am – 10 am and 2 pm - 6 pm.
One benefit of a split shift is it allows an employee to attend to personal obligations like grocery shopping during the day when these locations are less busy. It also allows time to split at home childcare duties between two working spouses.
With modified work weeks, a work schedule can be modified to work on alternative days of the week. Instead of Monday through Friday, it could be Saturday through Wednesday. Human Resource leaders should always refer to local employment standards that may be applicable in this case.
A compressed workweek means working a full-time schedule in fewer than five days per week or fewer than 10 days in a two-week period. This kind of arrangement can give employees blocks of time off without a loss in pay. Human Resource leaders should check local employment standards that may be applicable to this type of arrangement or may limit the number of hours an employee can work in a day or in a week.
Temporary part-time work enables an employee to remain employed but with a reduced number of hours they are scheduled to work. This can involve working fewer hours per day or fewer days per week.
Some of these options may work better than others depending on the role, necessity of operating during core hours and local legislative requirements.
Times of crisis and uncertainty require agility, and it’s important that people and Human Resource professionals understand their roles as leaders in employee resilience. I encourage all leaders and employees to work together to develop creative ways to maintain productivity and drive engagement while meeting the increasing flexibility needs of employees who may have been impacted by COVID-19.