Outcomes not hours. Flexibility is becoming a mandate for employee engagement


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This is a draft excerpt from the upcoming book, What’s Your Green Goldfish? Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Create Employee Loyalty and Reinforce Culture:


1st inchOnboarding

2nd inchFood & Beverage, Shelter / Space, Transparency / Openness

3rd inchWellness, Time Away, Modern Family


4th inchRecognition

5th inchTeam Building

The sixth INCH

The sixth inch on the 9 INCH journey to the heart of your employees involves Flexibility.

Flexibility is about control and everyone wants flex. According to the Center for Talent Innovation’s research, if there’s one work perk that rises above the rest, it’s flexible work arrangements. The CTI study showed that 87% of Boomers, 79% of Gen X’ers, and 89% of Millennials cite flex as important. (Source: CTI)

Why be flexible? The bottom line benefit for companies is increased productivity and job satisfaction. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett,

Companies that treat time as currency — through remote work options, staggered hours, and reduced-hour arrangements — are also more likely to attract and retain high-caliber employees. Work/life balance has always been prized by working women juggling the demands of family and high-powered jobs, and now these moms are being seconded by incoming Millennials, who consider it a basic entitlement to play as hard as they work.” (Source: hbr.org)

A Changing Workplace

By some estimates perhaps one-quarter of all US jobs could be performed remotely, and in a 2011 survey of 2,000 US businesses, one-quarter of them said they planned to use more remote workers in the future. (Source: McKinsey) Forty percent of U.S. workers have jobs that could be done from home at least part of the time. (Source: Telework Research Network) It’s already happening. Eighty to 90 percent of Cisco and Accenture employees are regular telecommuters. Many tech experts are convinced we won’t even need offices as we know them in the future. (Source: Fortune)

Workshifting by the Numbers

Citrix has pioneered the concept of Work·shift·ing. Work·shift·ing is using the web to get work done anytime, anywhere — outside the traditional office space. It produces savings for employees, employers and the environment:

• Workplace flexibility can save employers up to $20,000 per employee per year.

• Workshifters save between $4,000 and $21,000 per year in travel and work-related costs.

• 80% of employers say workshifting options help recruit talent.

• Companies with telework policies realize an 18% savings in real estate, electricity and office expenses.

• Half-time telecommuting nationwide would spare the environment the equivalent of taking 10 million cars permanently off the road.

Increasing business performance and employee satisfaction

• Workshifters are 55% more engaged than non-workshifters.

• When telework policies are introduced, companies report a 25% reduction in employee attrition.

• Workshifting increases productivity by 27%.

• 72% of employees say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another.

• The expected turnover rate for employees who do not have the flexibility is almost twice the rate of those who do. (Source: Citrix)

Let’s look at a Baker’s Dozen of companies who push the limits of Flexibility:

patagonia green goldfish yvon choinard surfing

Patagonia Inc., (#35) based in Ventura, Calif., attracts outdoorsy types with its athletic clothing brand and laser-like focus on work-life balance. Time away from the office isn’t just tolerated here, it’s required, says Rob BonDurant, Patagonia’s vice president of marketing and de facto culture guide. Its 1,300 employees enjoy what the company calls “Let My People Go Surfing” time — a period during any work day where employees can head outdoors to get their creative juices flowing. Of course, they can’t abandon their duties or ditch a meeting, but popping out for an impromptu climb or bike ride is encouraged. Patagonia’s flex-time policies — which originated from Yvon Chouinard, an outdoor enthusiast who founded the company in 1974 — are good for employee morale and invaluable to the company.

In the words of Rob BonDurant,

The time we spend outside the office helps us manage the storytelling process around our products. We’re designing ski and surfing apparel, we need to be traveling and trying things out.” (Source: Entreprenuer.com)

Patagonia (#188) also gives employees two weeks of full-paid leave to work for the green nonprofit of their choice. (Source: Inc.com)

Control of Hours / Schedule

Managers struggle to judge employees on outcomes, not hours, since defining clear goals and determining reasonable time lines are difficult.

According to JetBlue’s VP of Talent Bonny Simi,

Bosses need to just relax. They don’t have to see the employee for the work to get done. That’s the hardest shift in mind-set for some managers. They [employees] don’t want to work 9 to 5 … and it doesn’t matter to me if they work better from six at night until three in the morning or if they can do the work in six hours instead of eight.”

Work schedule flexibility is a major reason employees prefer working at Busch Gardens (#364). It has helped make the Tampa Bay theme park a go-to employer. According to David Bode, VP of Human Resources,

We learned how to be very flexible because we employ a lot of students with strange hours and people who rely on us for second jobs. Plus our work demand varies so much.”

Busch needs a minimum of 1,500 people to keep the place open seven days a week. They bulk the staff up to 4,500 for the peak summer and winter seasons between Christmas and Easter. But needs vary dramatically with weather, the day of the week, the time of day and attendance projections, so the park has made schedule juggling an art form.

It’s great,” said Chris Noyce, a 21-year-old USF environmental sciences major in his third year as a ride operator. “When you work is almost up to you.”

Employees post their availability on a company website. Shifts are pared down to work units of four to six hours. The computer matches available employees to attendance projections and work demands two weeks ahead of time. The supervisors then fine-tune and juggle the actual work assignments — even down to the same day. (Source: Tampa Bay Tribune)

At Brand Learning (#333) directors are trusted to manage their time and way of working, within reason, and there are reduced work options of 2½, three and four-day weeks. (Source: The Sunday Times)

Believe it or not, Point B (#279), a Portland management consulting company offers its employees no paid vacation time or holidays — and the employees seem to love it. That’s because this company believes so firmly in flexibility that associates get paid only for the time they work, so there is no arbitrary limit to how much time off they can take. “I’ve never worked anywhere that was as committed to helping employees realize what the work-life balance means to them individually,” says one employee. (Source: Oregon Business)

The furniture retailer IKEA (#603) offers a range of alternative work options to help employees balance work-life commitments, including flexible hours, shortened and compressed work week options and job-sharing arrangements.

Lori Ames at ThePRFreelancer.com (#773) has a small business with 2 employees. In her words,

One of my employees is dating a New York City police officer, who works 5 days on, 2 days off, 5 days on, 3 days off. I’ve structured her schedule so that she works the same days as he does, and is off for 2 days each time he’s off. Sometimes her weekend is M & T, sometimes S & SU; but it’s made for a very happy employee.” (Source: Lori Ames)

Up and Down Pay at Semco (#785). If an employees is going through a phase in which they would rather work less and accept lowering their pay accordingly, the company is committed to do its best to adapt.

Remote Access

All employees at Fulcrum Inquiry (#222) receive a laptop computer and related remote access to all of the firm’s technology & files. Every employee can work remotely if their particular assignment at that time makes this practical. All employees occasionally work remotely. A few employees extensively work from home and during non-standard hours. Workers also boast a Flexible Schedule. Consultants own their schedule based on the client needs. (Source: Los Angeles Business Journal)

Flexibility is the norm at this accounting firm. PwC (#233), with more than 160,000 employees operating in 154 countries, has one of the highest percentages of telecommuters — with 70 percent of employees working from home at least 20 percent of the time. (Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle)

ROWE, ROWE, ROWE Your Office

best buy green goldfish rowe

At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy (#13). The nation’s leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical–if risky–experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for “results-only work environment,” seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours. Hence workers pulling into the company’s amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren’t considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. (Source: Business Week)

Netflix believes that “Hard Work is Not Relevant.” According to CEO Reed Hastings,

We don’t measure people by how many hours they work or how much they are in the office. We do care about accomplishing great work. Sustained B-level performance, despite “A” for effort, generates a generous severance package, with respect. Sustained A-level performance, despite minimal effort, is rewarded with more responsibility and great pay.”

Jeff Gunther, CEO of the Charlottesville Meddius (#182), VA-based software company Meddius, decided he would change the way his staff works by instituting a results-only working environment. Meddius employees can work any time from any place in any way, as long as they get their work done. Gunther has found that by giving employees the trust and autonomy they need, they’ve actually been more productive and loyal to the company. (Source: Inc.com)

Edmunds.com (#203) boasts an innovative corporate culture, highlighted by a rollout of a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) in 2012. Under ROWE, Edmunds.com employees are offered the freedom to work at any time from any location where they can most effectively deliver their expected results.

In the words of Matthew DiGeronimo, Principal at Smith Floyd (#772)

I enforce NO work hours. Performance driven – not hours logged driven. Employees can even attend staff meetings from home (via Skype) if they desire.” (Source: Smith Floyd)

Perks / Concierge

At S.C. Johnson (#200), 12,000 employees have access to a concierge service that will take care of just about any chore: from returning overdue library books to making sure your dry cleaning gets picked up on time. The Racine, Wisc., company is in the business of cleaning products, after all. (Source: The Fiscal Times)

During the firm’s busy season, a “perk” plan is offered at RBZ, LLP (#212). Weekly manicures, massage therapy, daily catered dinners, nightly office-wide Trivial Pursuit games, espresso cart and free hotel stays nearby. A full-time concierge runs errands, and a free house cleaning each three month season rounds out this incredible benefit. (Source: Los Angeles Business Journal)

Benefits are first class at Counterpart International Inc. (#722). In addition to health insurance and a 403(b) fund, the organization offers three lifestyle benefits (employees are allowed to choose one): gym membership, a $125 public transportation benefit, or paid parking in the building’s garage. (Source: PR News Online)

Job Rotation

Employees at MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries (#329) can try on various positions for the best fit. (Source: St. Louis Business Journal)

“Orionites,” as they call themselves at Orion Trading (#742), don’t like to stay in one place. The company encourages employees to try different jobs from time to time, moving in and out of marketing, sales, client services or media investment. The goal is to grow employees skills, which Orion has found increases everyone’s output. (Source: Advertising Age)

Working Off-Script

From a post by Jay Baer at Convince & Convert:

Mid-way on a Southwest Airlines (#521) flight home from a speaking engagement in Ft. Lauderdale, I looked up from my laptop to find Becky the flight attendant standing at the front of plane with a boy of about 9.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry to disturb you, but I just thought you should know that we have a celebrity on the plane today. Well, perhaps not a celebrity today, but someday this young man will be a famous artist. Abraham has drawn us a marvelous picture. It’s quite wonderful, and I’ll be displaying it up here so we all can enjoy his great picture.”

The kid was absolutely BEAMING with pride and accomplishment and happiness and honor. Abraham returned to his seat. Becky broke out the medical kit, ripped open a band-aid and used it as ersatz tape to post the picture on the wall.

A few minutes later, Abraham was back with a second picture. A landscape this time, Becky again made an announcement and grabbed another band-aid.

When I talk about focusing on BEING social, rather than focusing on DOING social media, this is what I mean.

Social business isn’t about tools and technology. It’s about giving Becky the freedom to work off-script. It’s about cultural DNA that values moments of delight. It’s about treating customers as humans, not transactions. It’s about winning hearts and minds one planeload at a time with a personal, shared experience.

And it’s about building loyalty and triggering word-of-mouth by doing it well. Will Abraham’s parents ever fly any other airline? Will he? Will I? Or you?

For companies that are social at their core, social media just lets the rich get richer. For companies that don’t truly believe in the primacy of the customer, all the Twitter and Facebook and blogs and YouTube in the world won’t change their fortunes.

Social is foremost a philosophy, not a set of behaviors. And actions speak louder than words.” (Source: ConvinceandConvert.com)

Flexibility with Kids

schools financial green goldfish #103

Schools Financial Credit Union (#103) allows any of its employees to bring their newborns to work until the children are six months old. According to the vice president of marketing at the company, the babies cause little distraction, and since the parents can continue performing most of their work duties, the company doesn’t have to hire temps or train new people. (Source: Quality Logo Products) SFCU (#766) also supports a program called School Activities Leave. Employees may take up to 40 hours per year off for participation in a child’s school activity.

Flexibility with Pay and Benefits

All employees at Darden (#86) Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s) are eligible for health insurance and disability coverage from the first day of employment, which is highly unusual in the restaurant business. In addition, Darden pays employees on a weekly basis, rather than bi-weekly – even though it costs them more to do so – because they recognize the economic needs of their workers.

Flexible with Travel

Unlike many technology and management consulting companies, Jabian Consulting (#245) focuses on local client engagements, meaning its consultants do not endure the typically grueling travel demands that often come with consulting work.

Flexible Dress Code

Several winning workplaces stress the importance of the right atmosphere. At BBS Technologies (#802), that means striving to replicate a college campus’s freedom and intellectual excitement.

The dress code? “You must wear clothes,” CEO Rick Pleczko said.

Otherwise, Pleczko said he wants everyone to feel comfortable at the software company as he tries to combine a casual atmosphere with a professional environment,

“We care what you produce and deliver, but not so much how you look,” (Source: Houston Chronicle)

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a great YouTube video on ROWE by the U. of Minnesota:

All of the examples in this post were taken from the Green Goldfish Project. The Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Green goldfish are the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, reinforce culture, increase retention and drive positive WoM. The book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on March 29, 2013.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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