The August, 2009 issue of Staffing Industry Review contains an interesting article about workers willing to change their schedules or take pay cuts in lieu of losing their jobs. In a Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey, the majority of workers said they were willing to change their schedule or take pay cuts to hold on to their jobs. Nearly 80% of workers polled indicated they’d be willing to work a compressed work week, while nearly 60% said they would take additional unpaid vacation days or furloughs (several weeks without pay). 48% said they would job-share with their co-workers, while 47% would take a cut in both pay and hours.

These statistics seem to be consistent with employees continuing to value work-life balance, as well as hanging onto their jobs. According to the article, “what has not changed much during the economic downturn is work-life flexibility. Most companies continue to offer the same or an increased amount of opportunities and most workers polled reported their flexibility use has either increased or stayed the same during the past year.”

With the slowed economy, layoffs and company reorganizations, it is perhaps a great time for organizations to look at offering flex time to employees whenever possible. The benefits of flex time to companies have been cited as reduced overtime and other expenses, higher productivity, decreased absenteeism and turnover, and heightened employee morale that results in employees being more willing to go the extra mile for the employer.

An internal survey at PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that 93% of workers using flextime – the majority of whom are women – said it was a major factor in them staying with the firm. People find themselves trying to balance the combined needs of a demanding professional life and a very busy personal life. This could be in any number of areas including having to juggle childcare needs, extensive travel, time off to attend or teach classes as well as having a second job which usually means having to work around a different time schedule. So to keep talent you want to keep, flex-time can be an attractive and cost-effective solution.

Flexible work arrangements traditionally have been the domain of exempt, salaried employees, but now companies are using them for nonexempt, hourly workers, experts say. According to a recent study by WorldatWork and Work Design collaborative, 45% of survey respondents report they include nonexempt employees in their flexible work arrangements. The researchers expected to find that only about 15% did so, according to the study, which surveyed 135 employers.

To assist with flex-time and maintain FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) practices, a bill in Congress would allow companies to provide compensatory time for employees in the private sector instead of overtime. This would mean that companies can provide time off with pay instead of overtime pay. Some experts believe this issue may be next on lobbyists’ agenda. This is important because some workers want to work a compressed workweek at times and more than 40 hours a week on other occasions.

The downturn in the economy has also created part-time jobs as a solution to cash-flow woes, which fits into the flex-time work model, as well. Perhaps not everyone is in a position to work part-time, but, again, employees seem to be willing to work whatever hours they can get in lieu of losing a job altogether.

“Regardless of the economic boom or doom, work-life flexibility is here to stay,” comments Work-Life Fit CEO Cali Williams Yost. “Now we have to figure out how to use flexibility to help manage our businesses and our lives, both of which are forever changed by this recession.”

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