Flexible Scheduling for Older Employees: Five Points to Make it Work

Flexible scheduling for an older working population is more important than ever as that part of the labor force continues to grow. They’re getting squeezed for time, even as they work later into life, but offering more in order to hold onto these golden oldies has never been more worth it to business.

Older employees offer the very embodiment of an experienced, dedicated and stable workforce. They’re often more savvy, wiser on the phone and even reassuring to many a customer base.

Some estimates suggest that by 2020 – just seven years from now – some 36% of the US workforce will be over the age of 50. With different family concerns, different day-to-day scheduling needs and lots that’s just not on the regular business radar, flexible scheduling and ever-better workforce management mean that some employers will be able to make allowances.

Flexible Scheduling in all its Varieties!

Consider each of these commonly employed varieties of flexible scheduling:

  • Real flexi-time – Within permitted parameters, employees simply have to meet minimum hours, at any time during any shift.
  • Free shift swaps – All employees have the freedom to drop or pick up shifts in consultation with other employees until all shifts are covered.
  • Staggered hours – Usually to allow for longer opening hours, employees start and end shifts at different times.
  • Self rostering – Workers can simply sign up for shifts within parameters established by a manager.
  • Time off in lieu – In the US, this is only for the public sector, but many workers agree to take the time and half off, instead of the time and a half pay – in exchange for overtime work.
  • Compressed workshifts – Allows employees to work the same number of hours, but usually in fewer days, for example, in four ten hour shifts.
  • Easy time-off – Easily accommodates casual or as-needed employees while keeping them on a formal payroll.

All of the above can work to keep older employees happy and productive. In fact, in many cases, they’ll seriously increase productivity. Though these kinds of scheduling changes may come as quite a surprise, implementing them can be managed effectively and efficiently with no disruption in workplace performance. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Review all operations requirements

Establish requirements for all on-site cover during all possible shifts, and review with all relevant managers.

2. Review your tech set up

Homeworkers can present a number of networking, security and related technical challenges. So this one can present a bigger task than it might first seem.

 3. Monitoring

Don’t leave this till last! Review early on how you are going to evaluate the effectiveness and productivity of employee’s new hours and shifts. You’ll want to be watching not only bottom line numbers, but also morale and absenteeism.

4. Manage your goals!

All shift managers should be fully informed of the “what, how and why” of all the changes you’re making, especially if they’ve been at it a while. Any manager knows the culture of the workplace well, and often times, they know it better than their superiors. Work closely with them.

5. Manage expectations

Good employees understand the bottom line. Even when they’re jumping at the chance for more flexible scheduling, they should also be made aware of production schedules, seasonal requirements or changes and as much as will allow them to remain a part of a vital and productive workforce.

Karin Jakovljevic

About the author

Karin Jakovljevic

Karin Jakovljevic is the head of marketing at Ximble, a powerful, cloud-based workforce management system, simplifying employee scheduling and time tracking for retailers, restaurants and small businesses.

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