Thursday, July 12, 2012

Advantages and Disadvantages of Flex-scheduling

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Organizations need flexibility to respond to change. The essence of this flexibility is the ability to match labor needs with the existing labor supply, maintaining a balance between the well-being of the organization and that of employees. Flexible work schedules are one response to changes in the composition of the work force, new life-styles such as single-parent and two-paycheck households, and changes in the way people perceive work and time.

Alternative schedules can be categorized by the amount of time spent working, the time of day when work is scheduled, and the amount of employee control. Chief variations in the amount of time are part-time employment, inclduing phased retirement; emporary employment, and job sharing Variations in the timeof day include flextime, working at home, and the compressed work week.

Part-time Employment

These workers are primarily women, the very young, and older near-retirees--a diverse group with very different concerns. Large numbers of part-time jobs are in retail and service occupations. Belying old notions about productivity, perceived lack of commitment, and working for pin money, part-timers are demanding pay equity, benefits, more responsibility, and greater fulfillment. A significant number are managerial and professional workers, giving rise to the concept of career part-time employment.

Advantages of part-time work to parents and students include more time for family life or education, better child care arrangements, and off-peak commuting. Older workers can use reduced hours as a means of gradual transition to retirement. These advantages often come at the cost of lower pay, benefits, and pension; reduced career advancement; and increased vulnerability to layoffs. Employers may benefit from increased productivity, reduced absences and lateness, easier recruitment, and lower labor costs. However, they may also face opposition from unions, higher training costs, and greater administrative or supervisory workload.

Temporary Employent

For workers, temporary jobs provide scheduling freedom and variety. They may suit those caring for children or parents, retirees, people who want supplemental income but not permanent work, and those seeking permanent jobs, such as recent graduates, reentry workers, and people between jobs or relocating. Businesses use contingent workers for cost containment and staffing flexibility, without the personnel costs and administrative details, which are handled by the temporary agency. Office automation and equipment upgrading create a constant demand for sophisticated skills; using temporaries can involve less investment in training.

The most obvious problems for workers are lack of benefits, pensions, and advancement opportunities and potential difficulty with getting permanent employment. Employers concerns are lack of employee loyalty and quality control. There is also concern that temporary jobs are displacing permanent jobs, encouraging the growth of a two-tier work force in which core employees have security, benefits, pensions, and stable income and peripheral employees have none. Particularly because females, young people, and minorities predominate in the temporary work force, this trend may further limit their access to training opportunities and higher-paying jobs with benefits.

Job Sharing

One response to the shortage of permanent, career-status part-time jobs is job sharing, typically an arrangement in which two people share one full-time job. In some cases, partners arrange to share the same job and their child care responsibilities. The success of job sharing depends on finding compatible, cooperative partners and on careful coordination between partners and with supervisors. Promoted as a way to prevent burnout, spread dull or routine tasks, balance work and nonwork responsibilities, or ease into retirement, job sharing is associated with improved morale and lower overtime, turnover, and absenteeism. It may give employers access to a larger applicant pool, a wider range of expertise and creativity, and better coverage.

On the other hand, job sharers may be faced with lower income, fewer fringe benefits, and slower advancement and tenure. There may be sensitivity to sharing credit for accomplishments, as well as negative attitudes of full-time workers. Supervisors may have to contend with difficulty in personnel evaluations, communication, coordination, scheduling, and determination of pay and benefit levels.


Flextime schedules allow variability in the starting and ending times of the work day, usually with a core time during which all employees must be present and flexible time when employees may choose times of arrival and departure. Flexibility is also enhanced if employees can vary schedules daily rather than with prior notice. Another variation is the compressed work week, usually four 10-hour days.

Unlike other options, flextime offers the most benefits to employees with the fewest costs. Higher motivation and job satisfaction have been shown to result from greater control over ones time. Commuting time is often lessened. Productivity may be enhanced by a schedule that takes advantage of an individuals biologcal clock. Employers benefit from reduced absences and lateness, lower turnover, higher morale, less overtime pay, and better use of facilities.

One of the greatest barriers to flextime is the reluctance of supervisors who may anticipate inadequate staffing and difficulties with communication, meetings, scheduling, supervision, and timekeeping. Because certain types of work are not suited to flextime, inequities may result if it is offered only to certain departments or classes of workers. Union opposition arises from the loss of overtime rights; labor legislation regarding overtime hours may constrain certain scheduling arrangements.

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