4 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy: Flexibility in the Factory
Flexible work conditions is a concept that is becoming more and more common across industries. As more Millennials and Gen Z’ers enter the workforce they are not interested in sitting at a desk or being confined to an office from 9:00-5:00 every day. They demand and expect work-life balance and the flexibility to allow them to have a meaningful and fulfilling job while also pursuing other interests and passions outside of work. Gone are the days of people being defined by their “day job,” replaced by a much more fluid situation in which employees want to have the option to work from home, have flexible hours, or a shorter work week. None of this is to say that today’s generation of employees don’t work hard – it’s just that times have changed and expectations have evolved.
We’ve written about how working remotely is one of the key flexibility perks that a workplace can provide and how it doesn’t necessarily work so well for floor workers in a factory. The reality is that the workforce is changing and traditional manufacturing jobs are becoming less appealing. In order to attract and keep the new generation of workers, you must consider providing workplace flexibility. Following are a few options that can work considering a factory environment:
The good thing about working on a factory floor is that it’s done in shifts, which means there is some built-in flexibility. You can offer workers the option to choose the timing of their shifts like Globe Manufacturing Co. in New Hampshire did. They let the employees working the first morning shift choose what time they wanted to start, between 6:00am and 8:00am. While 80% of employees stuck with the original 6:00am start time, morale was high because it had been their choice. It may seem small to you, as an employer, but an extra hour in the morning can mean the ability to drop a child at school, fit in a workout, or otherwise improve work-life balance.
Make it easier for workers to swap shifts with their colleagues without having to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops. Have clear guidelines and a procedure in place to ensure that you are never left with no coverage and so that there is some managerial oversight, but make it easy for employees to deal with things like doctor appointments, sick kids at home, and other unexpected situations that come up. Knowing that this flexibility exists will relieve workers’ stress and make them happier at work.
Shorter Work Weeks
Consider giving employees the option to work fewer days in the week. While this would obviously come with a pay-cut, 25% of workers in the US would happily take home less pay in order to have a day off per week.
For those who still want the flexibility but can’t afford or don’t want the pay-cut, you can offer a compressed work week in which workers would choose to put in longer hours on some days in order to work less or not at all on other days. This also can work well when it comes to shift work as one can work a double shift one day and then stay home the next day, for example.
Be Flexible with Paid Time Off
Every company has its own vacation and paid time off policy. Make yours flexible and your workers will thank you and be more productive when they are at work. Try not to prevent anyone from taking off the time they request (within reason). While this may be difficult around holiday times like Christmas and the summer when everyone wants to take off and you may have to lay down some restrictions then, you can make it up by being more flexible the rest of the year.
In a nutshell, trust your employees and let them have ownership over their own time management and schedules and you will reap the benefits in their productivity.