30/06/2016 – Como um programa Flex-Time no MIT melhoria a Produtividade, Resiliência e Confiança (30/06/2016)
Harvard Business Review
by Peter Hirst - JUNE 30, 2016
In today’s increasingly competitive hiring market, organizations need to think differently about how to attract new employees and retain existing ones. Unfortunately, many of the obvious solutions require a financial investment: increasing salaries, bonuses, medical benefits, or vacation days. And if your “competitive advantage” in hiring simply boils down to throwing money at the problem, your hires are quite possibly going to jump ship when a higher offer or benefits package is put in front of them.
So how can an organization increase its benefits without increasing its budget? Many startups will look to add “fun” into the mix — pool tables, nerf guns, pizza Fridays, and happy hours. But that won’t necessarily appeal to all types of employees, and it may not be a sustainable option. Here at the Executive Education program at MIT Sloan School of Management, we took a different approach: introducing flex time.
Working directly with our human resources department, we launched a remote work pilot for our team of 35 employees. The program has several key principles:
- Everyone is encouraged to work remotely at least two to three days per week
- Wednesdays are our “work in the office if you physically can” days
- You don’t need to work a strict 9-to-5 schedule, but be mindful of regular business hours and don’t expect others to match your unique working hours
- Don’t feel that you need to be connected 24/7
This foundation proved instrumental in having the team understand the opportunities and responsibilities in having a flex-time schedule. After our six-month trial period, we surveyed the team to determine if this arrangement was a viable and successful long-term benefit of working for our department. The survey found that 100% of the team said they would recommend working remotely to other departments.
At first glance, the financial gain is negligible; it’s simply a benefit we added that did not increase our personnel budget. But looking deeper there are tangible bottom-line benefits to our flex-time program. For example, our employees report feeling less stressed, simply because — for some — we reduced or eliminated a grueling commute. According to Psychology Today, commuting can have a significant detrimental impact on people:
- Commuting “can be a major cause of stress due to the unpredictability and a sense of loss of control”
- It is “associated with increased blood pressure, musculoskeletal problems, lower frustration tolerance, and higher levels of anxiety and hostility”
- It “can cause bad moods when arriving at work and coming home, increased lateness and missed work, and worsened cognitive performance”
- Just one additional hour of commuting has been linked to a 6% decrease in health-related activities such as sleep, exercise, and family time
By reducing the number of days our team members need to come to Cambridge — a notoriously bad commute — we’ve reduced or eliminated a core area of stress. That benefit should reap results in healthier and happier employees who take fewer unplanned sick days. In its 2014 survey on workplace flexibility, the Society for Human Resource Management found that one-third of companies participating in the survey saw a decrease in absenteeism after they implemented flex-time policies.
Our flex-time program also delivers financial gain for us in the form of increased productivity, regardless of the weather. This past winter in the Boston area was not very bad, but the previous winter saw record-breaking snowfall. Employees of organizations that required them to be on-site suffered from weather-related commuting issues, resulting in late or absent employees. Our team members were able to put in full, productive days from their homes, without the stress of driving in the snow or having to take delayed mass transit options.
Perhaps most surprising is how our flex-time program has impacted employee trust. When first launching the program, I hadn’t thought of how the program communicates the trust we have for our staff. We trust our people to be professionals and understand what needs to be done, regardless of where they work. It’s easy to forget how traditional work practices like required office hours can often come off as a lack of trust for employees’ ability to get the job done. When surveying our staff, 62% recorded an improved feeling of trust and respect. Based on this stat alone, it’s clear to me that people who feel trusted will get their work done efficiently while improving overall morale and company culture.
Our journey into flex time has been relatively short — we’ve offered this program for 18 months — but we expect that offering flex time will have a meaningful financial impact on our ability to retain and recruit high-quality employees.
Peter Hirst is associate dean of Executive Education at MIT Sloan School of Management.