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It’s no secret – Happy workers have a tremendous impact on productivity and keeping down costs. For many workers, flexibility is a key to maintaining a positive environment. Research shows that employees feel important when management makes it easier for them to work around their personal schedules. Not only does this increase demand for flexibility in scheduling, but it also suggests that companies should reevaluate where and how work is completed and their control over how employees spend their time.

According to a Gallop Poll, over $350 billion are lost each year due to satisfaction problems in the workplace. Changing management techniques and adopting the best practices can help your staff feel their jobs are truly a benefit to their lives.

Allow Your Employees Time to Manage Life’s Bigger Obligations

Flexible full-time work options have never been more plentiful, but options to temporarily leave work have become harder to find. Unfortunately, leaves of absence are necessary at times, forcing valuable employees to choose between their career or another of life’s big obligations. A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management showed a 34 percent increase in these kinds of requests from 2008 going forward.

How can you do this? Allow employees to switch between full- and part-time schedules during emergencies, and for rehire when someone has left the company on good terms. More businesses are switching to no rehire plans, but it only robs you of valuable, talented and loyal staffers who already have experience with the way your company operates.

Create Flexible Options that are Realistic for Your Team

You can offer your employees whatever benefits you like, but unless they can really take advantage of them, your workforce may wind up disgruntled. A look at flexibility stigma was recently published in The Journal of Social Issues that examined the reaction of employers and peers to workers enrolled in flexible scheduling programs or benefits like paternity leave. The results were clear. In many companies, options aren’t really acceptable in practice.

How can you change this? HR management has to make a concentrated effort to devise options that truly work for your company, instead of adopting idealistic policies no one’s prepared to stand behind. If the way you conduct business now will be disrupted by workers who work odd hours, change your business plan or offer different options, like the Paid Time Off policies cropping up around the country.

Don’t let flexibility be another buzzword for your company. Make it mean something. Encourage management and HR teams to work together on practical benefits. Keeping your talented and experienced employees happy will result in higher profits.