How can Flexible Work Practices Support Employee Education Goals?
Lack of time is often cited as a challenge to taking classes. Work schedules may conflict with class schedules, homework and the demands of studying may conflict with work requirements. Moreover, employees may not have the tools at home that they need to complete course assignments. These are just a few of the most commonly mentioned barriers to taking classes. Most of these challenges can be met with creative thinking and flexible scheduling and resource options implemented by the employer and employee.
An employer can design and implement a policy for flexible scheduling to accommodate classes, can allow employees to attend classes “on the clock” or can offer the use of company equipment including computers and access to the internet. Studies show that employees who have flexibility in their schedules for whatever reason have greater job satisfaction, commitment and engagement with the company.
The schools themselves are offering more flexibility in scheduling classes as well as their methods of delivery. Schools are now offering online courses, long-distance learning, and self-study options to name a few. The employee should be encouraged to talk with the schools to determine if any alternative options are available.
“TD Bank is committed to providing a workplace that creates flexibility in balancing the challenging demands of the workplace. While our ultimate goal is to deliver quality services to our customers, we recognize that employees who are able to balance competing work and personal needs are oftentimes happier and more productive in the workplace.” Alternative Work Schedule Policy of TD Bank
- Flextime – The workday start and end times differ from the standard work hours, yet the employee completes the required number of weekly hours.
- Compressed workweek – Longer days are worked in exchange for shorter days or a day off during the workweek.
- Part-time work – Working fewer hours than the fulltime employees. The options can be unlimited and can also include, staggered hours, core hours within a varied schedule where all employees must be present, longer breaks in the day to go to class and the time is made up by coming in earlier or staying later.
Telecommuting – working from a remote location one or more days a week. This may allow the employee/student the ability to complete their work while offsite, gaining some flexibility for school work.
Time off – allowing employees to access their vacation or other paid time off to go to school.
Leaves of absence – allowing employees to take a personal leave of absence to complete course work. For some degrees, an internship or other course/school requirement may require the employee to be offsite for a long period of time.
Allowing the employee to go to class during work hours – the employee is paid for some portion of the time they are in class.
Allowing the employee to use company resources such as the computer or the internet after hours to complete course work – This type of arrangement can be established with clear expectations and parameters so that there is no conflict with company policies on use of equipment for personal use.
STEP 2: Consider the specific changes you’d like to make
STEP 3: Either create an organization wide policy, or enter into a specific agreement with the employee
STEP 4: Cover the following points:
- Work/job responsibilities and expectations
- Amount of time in class and completing coursework
- Specific responsibilities for the employee and employer on time commitments for work and school
- Allowed use of company equipment
- Specific work hours or flexibility arrangement
- Conflict resolution process
- Regular check-ins on progress