I Hate The Late

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about Flex-time difficulties:

I work in Human Resources and often get questions from employees about situations in the workplace. Our company is a pretty relaxed culture whereas there is a lot of flexibility, including work schedules. 78% of our employees are women and we pride ourselves on being a family friendly corporation. Many employees come in between 5-30 minutes after there starting time of 8:00. Most adjust it by taking a shorter lunch hour, staying late, or make up the time other ways (weekend). There are a few positions where this flexibility has been causing problems, particularly the front office staff and receptionists. These are positions that open up the offices and answer phones. If they are late, it has more of an impact. It becomes difficult because it seems unfair that some are allowed flexibility but some aren’t.

How do I address this without getting rid of the flexible schedules for others? We also have bosses that come in late and their employees think, well, if they can come in late why can’t we. Our managers are exempt. There are always a few employees who take advantage of this privilege, but for the most part, employees get their work done. Please help. By the way, I love your site; it has been so helpful to my company and me.

Signed, HR & Flex

Dear HR & Flex:

Flex time is not for all or for none. Rather, it is an attractive option when it does not hurt the efficiency and effectiveness of one’s operation. Of course you know that. The multi-faceted question you pose is how to make the rules fair as to who is allowed and can continue on a flexible schedule and who is not allowed flex time? Those of you who are line-managers in collaboration with HR must answer this question authoritatively. That does not mean management mandates which employees are eligible and schedules their hours without consultation. Rather it usually means that a Flex-Time Policy is proposed and that eligible employees in cooperation with their immediate supervisor, who must monitor compliance, each sign up for a schedule that best suits them and the work assigned. Flex-Time is a privilege, not a right, and a policy statement should stipulate that if one’s flex schedule is abused that it can be withdrawn. Probably since you are in Human Relations, you are well acquainted with various flex arrangements and of policy statements. If not, you might find helpful The Women’s Forum –SAMPLE FLEX-TIME POLICY http://www.womans-work.com/flex-time_policy.htm Also, if you still have a question, you are invited to email them: mailto:HR_Expert@Womans-Work.comYou seem worried that those responsible to open the office and answer phones will feel mistreated if they must be their early. The fact that their job means they must be there early is simply the way it is. It is a demand of the job and there need be no apology or guilt if that is the case. However, usually a supervisor in consultation with employees who want a flex schedule will get reasonable suggestions regarding how certain arrangements will benefit them and not harm their assigned work. For example one who opens the office might ask: Why can’t I begin 15-30 minutes earlier than anyone else and leave earlier?Some workplaces require that everyone, including exempt employees, punch a time clock. Others require that none do. Your workplace allows exempt employees to come and go as their jobs demand. Right? The old saw voiced by employees probably will be heard at your workplace; when they are early, the boss is late and when the boss is early they are late! Such sayings imply there is simply no justice for the bossed. Such a maxim is just another expression resenting the perks of authority. Often the bossed do not understand the longer hours worked of those who supervise and/or manage and they know that some managers don’t seem to earn their pay.

Your challenge is to inform hourly workers that those in exempt status are allowed to make their own hours and it is equally important that HR help those exempt understand that how they come and go can cause resentment if done cavalierly.Are you not in contact with HR professionals in other work sites? Conversations about what others are doing should be ongoing. This week I listened to a governor report that his state was shifting to a four-day week because of the spike in gas prices. This is to become the rule after a short trial period. Might this be another form of flex that is possible for some of your employees and not for others? Flex-time is simply that and you are expected to be flexible! Soooo I wish you well as you are finding that working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. It is good to learn you have found our site of help. Please report how you resolve the ups and downs of flex-time–what works and does not can inform others in situations similar to yours. In this way, you too are a workplace doctor.

William Gorden