Hours Policies

As an employer, you have to make sure that both your business and your employees are healthy and efficient. Staying in business and ensuring longevity means caring for the people in the office and ensuring that they can stay happy while still getting their work done. So when it comes time to outline just how much time they should be dedicating to work, it can get confusing quickly. Employee work hour policies depend not only on the type of workers you hire, but also on the extent to which your business model or output allows for flexibility. Before you ink any contracts, make sure you know exactly what kind of policies you want to offer your employees.

Types of Contracts

Work hours are heavily influenced by the type of contract employees are working under. Gaining a thorough understanding of these will help you choose how to move forward in a way that benefits all parties. Different types of employment contracts also often define working time and an employee’s schedule.

Full-time contracts are very common and denote that someone is a permanent worker. They are still some of the most common types of contracts these days, even though other types of agreements are on the rise. In a vast majority of cases, full-time contracts entail a work schedule of 40 or more hours per week. They also often include competitive benefits meant to keep employees satisfied, including health care, parental leave, paid or unpaid vacation time, pension benefits, personal time and sick days.

Part-time contracts are similar to full-time work agreements, but they simply ensure fewer hours than their counterparts. These employees also holds a permanent position at your organization, but work fewer hours. The number of working hours is set in the contract and should be adhered to strictly. Part-time employees are often not given benefits like paid time off or health care. Younger employees or unskilled workers often work under these types of contracts.

Temporary contracts mean that you have hired an employee on an as-needed basis. Temporary employees likely have a certain skill or specialty or are used for more basic, clerical work. The contract outlines when, exactly, the partnership will end. These contracts are not likely to transition to permanent ones. Hours are flexible in these types of contracts, but often match up with regular work days.

Fixed-term contractors are sometimes hired because of their ability to complete a certain project or fix a specific issue. They only remain in the position for a certain amount of time, which is outlined in the agreement. However, a fixed-term contract sometimes presupposes long-term cooperation and can include benefits similar to those given to full-time employees. Depending on a length of such contracts, employees may or may not be entitled to vacation time. Some of these contracts do not include a specific time frame, so don’t feel pressured to add one if you’re unsure of the exact end date of a project.

Freelance contractors are self-employed workers who partner with you or your business for a specific project or a certain duration, which you outline in a contract. They do not have the same rights as permanent staff members and must remain independent of your business and able to be hired by other people. Their hours are flexible, but be aware that you can be accused of labor violations in some states if contractors are asked to approach 40 hours of work per week.

Agency contracts are used when you hire an employment organization to recruit workers and send them your way. You pay an agency for their services, which includes sorting out a salary or hourly rate, taxes, hours and social contribution for each worker. Agency contracts are usually used for short-term or seasonal work.

Full-Time and Part-Time Workers

These workers are, in some ways, among the easiest for scheduling and assigning hours, especially if you prefer simplicity and attract employees who require less flexibility. Because your full- and part-time staff members are included in your office’s payroll and come to work in your home office, you determine their work hours. The accepted norm for full-time hours, as stated above, is 40 hours per week, but you set your own boundaries on what you want that to mean in your own organization.

Part-time workers can be given a little less rigidity than full-time ones, at least in terms of when they are required to come to work. In some cases, they’ll be working the same shift but just for fewer hours. In other cases, they can work at different times that still add up to roughly the same amount of hours each week. It’s all under your control.

Many organization opt to enforce fixed working hours schedules during the week. This means that your workers will be expected to arrive and leave at the same time each and every day that they come to the office. You can still offer some flexibility within that for emergencies, vacations or appointments, but this helps keep the office running smoothly. A common full-time schedule, for example, would be a day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break built in. 

Independent Contractors and Freelancers

Contractors and freelance workers enjoy the greatest flexibility when it comes to working hours, which should factor heavily in your scheduling policies. In the majority of cases, you can simply assign a task, set a deadline and wait for them to deliver the results. It is entirely up to the freelancer to determine their hours and amount of daily work. As long as they deliver on time and report their hours honestly, you can hire them with little oversight and great results.

Make sure that the employees you call contractors or freelancers fit the bill. You can be exposed to lawsuits or legal action if you classify a worker as a freelancer, but require them to work full-time hours from your business’ office. In this case, it’s safer for you to hire any full-time position as a permanent employee outright and relegate freelancers to special or temporary projects.

Understanding Flexible Hours

Studies have shown that flexible hours contribute to higher employee satisfaction. It makes sense: They strike the right balance between work and private life without compromising productivity. Companies are now introducing flexible hours for even full-time personnel. The businesses allowing flexible work hours still have core times, though. For example, a certain policy may state that all employees must be present in the office between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and must be present for at least nine hours, but can arrive and leave at any point that would allow them to meet those requirements.

Some companies forego measuring hours and allow employees to take time off as they need, measuring performance simply through output. Some employers even allow their full- and part-time staff members to work remotely, like a freelancer would. Although the productivity of remote workers can be debated, many organizations implement remote work to cut the costs of commuting, food and travel time, which can be a draw to anyone who doesn’t feel like relocating for a new job.

Although unusual working hours and remote work are becoming more and more popular, they might not always work for every operation. If you are running any client-based business, like a brick-and-mortar store, a dental clinic or a real estate agency, for example, you need a certain amount of employees present at all times to interact with customers. However, jobs that would normally require a commute to an office can often be transitioned to remote roles relatively easily.

Sample Work Hours Policy

By implementing an employee work hours policy, you ensure both that your business operations run smoothly and that your employees, both in-office and remote, stay happy and engaged. If you set work standards and stick to them, your staff will be inclined to give their best efforts at the time you expect them to work.

Start your policy with the number of hours per day and week for each type of employee. Next, outline expectations about when to arrive and when to leave the office, plus the amount of time you allow for lunch breaks and rest throughout the day. You should also consider explaining overtime and whether you will allow workers to reach that number or if the cap will be 40 hours per week. If your workplace is seasonal, denote season-specific scheduling plans. 

Key Takeaways

Both you and your employees should take work hours seriously. That’s why it’s important that you outline your work hours policy clearly and in a way that’s easy to understand. Each role, from full-time to freelance, implies different hours and even different arrangements, especially if you plan to make any roles remote. To enforce a policy, consider type of workers you have, whether there is a place for work flexibility and how the policy could enhance your personnel’s productivity. Your employees will be happier and you’ll likely see a spike in productivity.

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Flexible Hours

Flexible work schedules are becoming increasingly popular in corporate offices around the country, because they provide a range of benefits for both employees and employers. While there are flexible work schedule pros and cons, the benefits of a flexible work schedule for small companies and startup businesses seems to outweigh the drawbacks. There are a variety of ways to make flexible employee work schedules, but it takes dedication, organization, and a lot of clear communication between team members to remain efficient. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to using the flex schedule for your employees and examples for how to make it work.

For Employees

Advantages

Some of the benefits of flexible work schedules in the office for employees include avoiding rush hour traffic commutes, which can also reduce fuel costs and help the environment. When trying to commute during rush hour, it can add up to an hour of commute time each day. Many employees prefer to plan their schedules earlier or later to avoid this wasted time that could be better spent at home. Another advantage for employees is the ability to build their schedule around their personal life, whether that be fitness or family obligations. The flex schedule gives employees a sense of control over their day, which can make them feel happier about their work environment.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage of the flexible work schedule for employees is that it can have a negative effect on the morale within the office. For employees who thrive in a lively office environment, it might be hard if coworkers are constantly coming and going. Sometimes, employees may be at their desk when no one else on their team is there yet or everyone else has left. Also, if employee work schedules become too flexible, there can be no clear balance between work and home responsibilities. Without those boundaries, employees may have trouble staying organized and on task.

For Employers

Advantages

The flex schedule also has many benefits for employers, including increased productivity in employees due to higher happiness levels. Allowing a flexible schedule can reduce turnover rate in employees, because they’re able to strike a  work-life balance. The flex schedule shows that the employer is accommodating and values their employees’ time and personal needs. Ultimately, the advantage of flexible schedules for employers is how much better their employees will perform.

Disadvantages

For companies that work in team-oriented systems, the flex schedule can become difficult, because employees aren’t always around when needed. Many employers will require core hours, when everyone needs to be in the office, for this reason. Putting flex schedules into play can make management difficult, because giving an inch sometimes leads to giving a mile andpulling the rope back on employee rules can be challenging. Another disadvantage for employers, when it comes to flex schedules, can be trying to manage clients when employees aren’t in the office at the right time. Clients have unpredictable needs, but those needs have to be met right away. If employees aren’t there to meet them, because their schedule doesn’t match up, it’s hard to pick up the slack.

Flexible Work Schedule Examples

There are many flexible work schedule examples that can work for your company if you think them through and your team communicates effectively. One method is to have half of your team come in earlier and half the team come in later, with the entire team being present during core hours of the day. Another example includes the allowance of remote work days. The best way to stay productive as a team, when putting flex schedules into place, is to make sure that everyone is still aware of each other’s schedule each week. That way, the team can plan accordingly for meetings, client needs, and other important tasks.

While there are flexible work schedule pros and cons for both employees and employers, many will agree that the pros outweigh the cons. Everyone values work-life balance and would like the option to choose their work schedule in order to accommodate their family, avoid traffic, or incorporate other personal activities into their day more easily. The typical 9-to-5 work day is becoming a thing of the past, and companies that enforce this strict schedule will likely find their employee turnover rate climb as years go by. The best way to keep employees happy and productive is to work with them, not against them.

Vacation Policies

As the office manager, it can be easy to get caught up in the chaos of managing business operations. With several employees to manage and various moving parts to oversee, it may seem like the job description of the office manager is never ending—but that’s because it’s incomparably important. Along with everything else the office manager must do to keep the office afloat, this person also has the privilege of implementing an office-wide vacation policy that can alter company morale. Are you stuck wondering which vacation policy is the best to offer your employees? Let us help you out with our research.

The Problem With Vacation Policies

The fundamental problem with many vacation policies is that they ultimately require employees to work harder and stress more in order to make up for the time off, which negates the point of taking a holiday in the first place. Before employees get to use their vacation days, they usually have to jump through administrative hurdles—filling out old forms, getting signatures, forwarding documents—to even activate the vacation days they were allocated at the beginning of the year. By the time employees are ready to leave the office, they tend to be more stressed about the pile of work they will return to than excited about the forthcoming “vacation.”

Before you attempt to fix this by implementing an unlimited, open-ended vacation policy, consider the drawbacks. The principal problem that arises with this kind of policy is that employees start to make their decisions about vacation based on what they see other people in the office doing. In a blog post, Mathias Meyer, the CEO of a German tech company, wrote, “When people are uncertain about how many days it’s okay to take off, you’ll see curious things happen. People will hesitate to take a vacation as they don’t want to seem like that person who’s taking the most vacation days. It’s a race to the bottom instead of a race towards a well rested and happy team.” Are you starting to seriously consider that trip to the Egyptian pyramids you’ve always wanted to take? It’s going to be harder to convince yourself you deserve it when John in customer relations and Judy in HR haven’t used a single vacation day this year.

Solution 1: Implementing Scheduled, Mandatory Vacation

One possible solution to this problem—where neither strictly allocated company vacation days nor unlimited ones provide the incentive to take a vacation—is implementing recurring, scheduled mandatory vacation. In his TED Talk, Designer Stefan Sagmeister explained his reasoning for taking sabbaticals, or one year off every seven years. The way Sagmeister sees it, life is essentially divided into three parts: 25 years of learning, 40 years of working, and 15 for retirement. By taking a sabbatical once every seven years, he’s essentially cutting off five years of retirement and interspersing the remaining 10 throughout the working years, allowing his curious and exploratory side to exist alongside—and even feed—his professional career.

To put the scheduled mandatory vacation policy to the test, Neil Pasricha and Shashank Nigam collaborated and had the employees of Nigam’s aviation strategy firm take a mandatory week off once every seven weeks. The experiment was designed so that employees who contacted the office during their vacation were not paid, making the vacation actually mandatory in this case. Furthermore, employees’ weeks off were decided ahead of time for them so everyone else in the office knew when others would be absent, eliminating the guilt or stress involved with leaving. After 12 weeks of the scheduled mandatory vacation policy in place, managers noted that employee creativity went up 33 percent, happiness levels rose 25 percent, and productivity increased by 13 percent. It became evident that a week off not only gave employees a necessary break from working but allowed them to relax and recenter enough that they were actually better at their jobs when they returned.

Solution 2: Alternative Vacation Policies

If a less sweeping vacation policy is in order, there are plenty of creative ways modern-day offices have found to give employees more productive time away from the office. Hanapin Marketing, for example, is a Bloomington, Indiana-based company that has created a fake holiday called “2nd2nd” to give employees an innocent reason to skip work. Paid sabbaticals, like the ones Atlanta-based money lender Kabbage provides, gives employees a fully-paid six week break for every five years of employment in addition to a generous annual stipend.

Another way to inspire employees to take time off is to follow in the footsteps of Seattle-based software company Outreach, which incorporates two days of paid volunteer work into its employees’ salaries. The Santa Monica-based company VideoAmp provides annual vacation stipends of $2,000 for employees to go on vacation with their families. Glassman Wealth Services in Vienna, Virginia even pays for its employees’ honeymoons, so long as they’ve been an employee for at least two years. The San Diego-based Cloudbeds offers free housing to employees for up to two weeks at a time in San Diego and Sao Paolo, Brazil as an incentive to leave the office more. Many of these companies also offer unlimited paid time off in addition to their more creative ways to get employees out of the office, which is only an option for certain companies and has its disadvantages, as previously discussed. For some perspective, the Google vacation policy includes 15 days of paid time off for first-year engineers, 25 days for 3-year employees, and 25 days after five years, but not unlimited paid time off.

Picking the best vacation policy for your office marks a significant step in gaining the loyalty and respect of your employees. Although your budget will dictate which plan you pick in the end, remember that your employees will be happier, and therefore more productive, if they are encouraged to take time off. By allowing your employees to go on vacation, you’re communicating that you want to see their work go places.

Work From Home Rules

The corporate world is divided on the topic of work from home policies. Critics say that allowing people to work from home just allows your employees to dawdle and waste time. Its advocates believe that allowing employees to work from home actually increases productivity, ups employee morale and positively benefits the company.

So, how do you create the perfect work from home policy that encourages all the positive sides of allowing employees to work from home?

Creating the Perfect Work From Home Policy

To create a perfect work from home policy, all it takes is four simple steps. By implementing these steps properly, companies can increase productivity and revenue, lower office operating costs and produce happier employees.

Step One: Clear Goals and Deadlines

Just because employees will be working from home doesn't mean that they shouldn't have a semblance of structure and deadlines. Thus, just as employees would have clear goals and deadlines at the office, they should have the same at home. They should check in when something is bothering them, or if they have a simple question, just as they would in the workplace.

Step Two: Regular Recaps

In order to ensure that your employees are staying  true to their tasks and deadlines, it’s important to have regularly scheduled in-office meeting and reviews. This allows you to offer encouragement or criticism in an orderly environment and will help you stay on top of your work-from-home employees.

Step Three: Training and Software

A vital ingredient of any work from home policy is to equip employees with the right software and training. This means teaching employees how to be productive at home, how to self-manage and how to make the best  use of their time. This can be done via seminars or regularly scheduled training sessions.

It’s also important to set them up with the best project management software and other productivity programs, such as Asana, Trello or the Google Suite of tools. This way you can stay on top of their performance in real time, as well as delegate tasks with ease.

Step Four: Trust Building

This is by far the most important step. You have to trust your employees and believe that working from home is best for them and for your company. This is the step that will truly ensure that your work from home policy succeeds. When people feel trust and belonging, they do their best work. Why not encourage that?

Now It’s Time to Decide

It can be daunting to decide to let your employees work from home, but it can be the best decision you can make for your business. It will cut operating costs, increase productivity and best of all improve employee happiness.

But before you take the leap, do a bit of introspection. Decide if you’re ready to take on the above steps wholeheartedly. And even then, you don't need to go all in at once, you can start with one or two senior-level employees and go from there. Or, you can have work-from-home Fridays, for a test run. We think you’ll be surprised, in the best way possible, by the results.

Employee Absenteeism

Employee absenteeism is any case of voluntary non-attendance at work where no valid grounds for the absence are in place. According to a definition by Investopedia, absenteeism is a habitual non-presence at the workplace, which might be a result of job dissatisfaction, chronic medical problems, or ongoing personal issues.

Not all habitual cases of non-attendance are classified as absenteeism, however. In fact, most businesses plan, or should plan, for their employees to have a certain number of absent days throughout the year. Your employee attendance policies, however, should clearly define what is considered a valid reason for non-attendance.

Why Is It Important to Measure Employee Attendance?

As we said, job dissatisfaction is among the major driving factors for a higher than average rate of absenteeism. In result, your business is incurring losses due to missed work hours, lower production levels and/or worsened customer support. A high rate of absenteeism lowers the morale of other workers and employees, which results in even worse business performance.

Annual Cost of Lost Productivity (in billions)

Professionals: $24.2
Managers / Executives: $15.7
Sales: $6.8

Source: Investopedia

Measuring employee attendance is important because of all of the above reasons. Nonetheless, you must have flexible employee attendance policies, especially if your core business is non-manufacturing. There are methods to measure employee performance that are not based solely on the number of work hours while taking into account this indicator as well. Numerous attendance-tracking apps are available on the market with selected software providing advanced options to track and measure employee attendance against different criteria.

How to Measure Absenteeism?

There are simple and widely used formulae for measuring absenteeism and average absenteeism rate per employee. You can find an example and its detailed explanation here:

A company has 100 employees and is measuring the absenteeism rate per employee over one-year period:

Total number of absent days in the year: 2,000

Total number of employees: 1002,000/100 = 20 absent days per employee

Total number of working days: 260 (in one year) per employee.

Absenteeism Rate per Employee = Total number of absent days per employee / Total number of working days x 100%20 / 260 x 100 = 7.69 %.

Office Access Heatmap by Kisi

Companies that rely on Kisi for their access control solution have access to all of the unlock events taking place within their workplace (including meeting rooms, other floors, etc.). Kisi's software also comes with a built-in heat map functionality. This makes it easier for HR, office management and C-level executives to recognize patterns among employees hours spent at the workplace in an anonymous way, and this can be an accurate indicator of employees attendance or absenteeism.

Kisi's unlock heatmap

Strategies to Manage Severe Employee Absenteeism

First of all, you should have a comprehensive employee attendance policy adopted. Your strategy should cover all of your workers and provide equal terms for measuring their respective absence from work. Nonetheless, a feasible absenteeism strategy will be quite flexible and adaptable to changes in the overall business environment. Your workers and employees will be equally engaged and motivated only when you treat them equally. And fairly.

Allowing flexible work schedules in your workplace can greatly improve your absenteeism rates, for instance. You need to adapt to a new business environment where both workers and white-collar staff expect a more relaxed work schedule. Furthermore, you need a trained manager to deal with absenteeism and encourage your employees to be more engaged with the business, without putting too much pressure on them. If you are unaware of the family matters of your workers, and there will be many of them on a regular basis, the morale among your employees can reach dangerously low levels.

It is quite difficult to manage such issues in a large corporation but you still can have a dedicated manager in charge of such matters. Options to share jobs, flexible work days or hours, as well as possibility to work from home are all viable options when applicable.

Finally, financial rewards for good performance and low absenteeism rates will work in most cases. Implement an employee attendance policy that rewards workers for a certain number of days with no registered absence for work and provide additional bonuses for good work. To recall, happy workers and employees are less likely to be absent at work.

Work Flexibility

The workplace has come a long way from dark and dingy cubicles that were commonplace in the 90’s, we know that for a fact; however, there are a lot of smaller changes that the modern workplace is currently going through that might not be so noticeable for employees.

In this guest post from Advanced Commercial Interiors, we will look at ways to move toward a more flexible, innovative workspace. We’ll point out the smaller changes, in detail, that the office is going through in order to make your staff more aware of how their workplace is changing for the better.

More Flexible Hours

There has been enough research conducted over the past few years to know that offering flexible working within your company benefits everyone.

Employees benefit because it allows them more freedom to work when they work best, rather than being held back by enforced hours. Take me as an example, I work best early in the morning, so I definitely find myself being more productive at 6 a.m. than I am at 5 p.m. Flexible working allows me to work when I work best, making me more productive.

That brings me to the benefits seen by employers. If staff is more productive, thanks to flexible working, then they know that they are making more money, in less time. Staff will be getting their work done faster and better than they ever did before.

Forcing someone who is more productive in the mornings to work late nights is not the way to go. It loses you money and makes your staff a lot less happy than it could be.

The Implications of Flexibility on the Office

As the view on flexible working changes, offices need to change too. Ten years ago, if you were given a job, you were also given a permanent desk. You came into work every day, sat on the same chair and did the same job for years on end.

Those days are long gone and we’re moving toward the future of office design!

Nowadays, hot desks are more common than ever. We have seen the rise of hot desks both in shared spaces and companies offering hot desks to other companies within their own space. Not only is this an additional source of income for businesses, but it also allows them to grow their network with the new companies that come through the door.

It’s rare to see an employee arrive at 9 a.m., sit at their desk and work through to 5 p.m. without moving around a lot. This is not only due to the rising popularity of flexible working hours, but also because it’s now commonplace for employees to get up to go to meetings, work with other people in the office and even eat lunch in the company cafeteria.

The Technology Requirements That Flexibility Creates

As we’ve discussed, the workplace is changing massively. More and more employees are experiencing the benefits of flexible working, but this means that employes also need to make sure their technology can keep up with this demand.

One of the most common ways we see this is with employers providing their staff with laptops rather than static PCs. This not only allows them to move around the building when they need to meet up with members of another department, but is also allows them to take their work home should they need to work remotely the next day.

Employers also need to provide their staff with VPN access keys so that they can access company documents securely while on different networks. This means that their staff is always able to grab documents, no matter if they’re working from the office, a coffee shop or their own home. Ultimately, all this makes their workforce more productive.

Security Requirements for the Flexible Office

Flexible offices have different security vulnerabilities than traditional spaces, but security requirements for both begin at the front door. Every physical space needs to invest in door security, but shared workspaces often have more complex demands—such as 24/7 access and the need to monitor access remotely. Flexible workspace security must also be easy to operate, since members or workers come and go. Flexible offices typically utilize many different coworking space management softwares, like Wun or Cobot, for example. To streamline operations, flexible offices can also consider a physical security program that is cloud-based, so it integrates with the other management software they use. Cloud-based access control systems connect door access to a flexible office’s member CRM. An example of a cloud-based access control system is Kisi, its open API integrates with the IT stack that flexible offices are already using, and programs like these make a flexible office on-demand bookable—this means workers have access credentials on their phone immediately after booking a space and no one needs to be present to let them into the building or conference room.

There are two surprising reasons why flexible offices choose cloud-based access control. The first is that owners can make more revenue with the same amount of space—by making sure that their meeting rooms and hot desks remain rented and no non-paying members or non-member walk-ins are utilizing the flexible office. The second surprising reason why spaces choose cloud-based access control is that it nurtures the culture that flexible offices endorse—being able to spend time focusing on work, when it works for them. Without wasting time on technicalities, like entering the building between 9-5 or waiting for a superior to let them into a locked meeting room.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there is a seismic shift happening in the workplace right now. Employers are becoming less hung up on the amount of time employees spend at their desks, and instead now focus on creating new ways to nurture productivity.

But the workplace technology is also changing to keep up with this trend. New hardware, security and software technologies are needed to keep up with the rate of change being experienced by the modern workplace. Even something as simple as access control has been revolutionized to ensure that employees are ready for the modern workplace.