Over the last decade, flexible hours have become a huge workplace trend in many businesses. But is it possible to develop flexible hours for industrial workers?
Many manufacturing and production firms are creating flexible hours for their employees. It helps, though, to understand a distinction between industrial jobs and other types of work in which flexible hours flourish.
Developing Flex Time for Coverage Jobs
The concept of flexible hours began with desk jobs whose work product has a deadline and whose teamwork can be accomplished via phone or e-mail. In other words, administrative work, writing, and designing are examples of jobs that lend themselves to flex-time because it’s delivery of the end product that matters, not when or even where it is done. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) calls these “deadline jobs.”
SHRM points out that industrial work, though, is full of “coverage jobs” rather than “deadline jobs.” A manufacturing plant needs a certain number of team members to work on specific parts, perhaps, or to work on conveyor belts that operate at a certain time. Communication is face to face. They need people to cover the work that needs to be done for a certain number of hours.
So there is a real distinction that on the surface may make industrial jobs less likely to be able to institute flexible hours.
Developing Flex Hours in Manufacturing
But there’s also a real reason to do it. Work-life balance has made flex time more accessible, and work-life balance is one of the attributes employees want in a company. In some places, industrial line workers are very dissatisfied with the lack of work-life balance. Instituting work-life balance makes the industrial firms that do it more desirable to their employees.
Ultimately, manufacturing companies need to think about how to provide coverage while also considering employee’s needs.
Here are some examples of how manufacturing companies handle flex time.
Allow vacation days in small increments
Allowing employees to take vacation days in small increments rather than a week at a time provides them with flexible time to use as they see fit. Manufacturing firms such as Kraft Foods allow one-day vacations. Other firms let employees break vacations into half-days if they prefer.
Create compressed work weeks
A compressed workweek is another population flextime option. Employees work longer shifts for four days a week and receive the fifth day off. A change can run for 10 hours from Monday to Thursday, for instance, with Friday off, rather than 8 hours from Monday to Friday.
Encourage employees to swap shifts
Work-life balance can also be enhanced by instituting a program in which employees can swap shifts. This can happen either regularly, or as a method of allowing employees “free time” during the times, they usually work.
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