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The Flexible Work Schedule: A Trend or the New Reality?

Employers across a variety of industries continue to implement flexible scheduling or work to meet employees’ needs for time off. As dual income households have become the norm combined with an increase in single parents, most employers agree that this flexibility has moved beyond a trend and is a reality of today’s workforce.

“We are seeing a much higher demand in employees looking for flexible work schedules,” said Louisiana Society for Human Resource Management State Council Director Gena Champagne. “In fact, many job candidates are asking for flexibility up front, which I view as a sign of people who are goal driven and perform at a higher level. I also realize this flex time is very important to them and the chances of you making and retaining a hire increases when you offer such perks.”

While many blue-collar jobs are still rooted in standard hourly work, professional services firms such as CPAs and attorneys—that normally adhere to more traditional schedules—are having to consider providing flexibility for their employees. “Our firm is open to offering flexible work schedules, short weeks, and late or early arrival to get kids to and from school when it is needed,” said Karen Breaux, Postlethwaite & Netterville’s director of human resources. “On the other end of the spectrum, we are now seeing employees who are in the role of caregivers for aging parents—running errands for them, bringing them to medical appointments. We make concessions for these team members as well.” Breaux believes that the firm has to be open to offering this flexibility in order to attract and retain high-performing individuals.

In the case of healthcare entities, like a hospital that is open 24/7, on-call employees and PRN positions fill in to offer flexibility when full-time employees care for sick kids or experience emergencies. However, Christina Detiveaux, who works in human resources for a southwest Louisiana hospital and is president of Imperial Calcasieu Society of Human Resources Management, said that their leadership is focused on scheduling that makes it easier for people to work. “It’s part of our culture to do everything we can to work with our employees to ensure we create a good work life balance,” she said. “Many of our administrative and leadership level team members have laptops and the ability to work remotely if needed. As times have changed, we have to be more flexible to bring in and keep quality talent.”

Otey White, principal of Otey White & Associates Advertising Agency, offers flexible time to long-term employees like his comptroller who juggles a dual income household and three teenagers, as well as employees who run branch offices out of state in Texas and the Northeast. “In this day and age, it’s almost a necessity,” he explained. “I have employees who have been with me for 15+ years who work flexible schedules. They have been instrumental in my business growth. They work on their own schedule, but I know they’ll get the job done. With the employees handling accounts out of state, you have to find mature, responsible individuals you can trust to work unsupervised for the most part.”

Karen Breaux sees flexible job scheduling for companies as a no brainer. “It’s low hanging fruit if you want to facilitate increased productivity. When your team members see that you care and you are willing to work with them, they give back. A happy employee is a happy employer.”

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