The pros and cons of compressed hours

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Eleven team For employers

The pros and cons of compressed hours

We’re often asked which elements of a recruitment package can help to attract a wider pool of candidates and compressed hours is definitely one to consider. Here we’re taking a good look at the pros and cons of offering compressed hours.

What are compressed hours?

Compressed hours allow employees to work their contracted hours over a fewer number of days. It can be as simple as taking half an hour for lunch each day and leaving two hours early, working four long days instead of five, or doing a nine day fortnight rather than two five-day weeks. It’s about giving employees more flexibility to juggle the other aspects of their life and can be really helpful for anyone with caring responsibilities be it children, parents or dogs. It can also mean a happy and potentially more productive workforce.

Although the practice of compressing hours is common in industries with a high percentage of working mums, it hasn’t yet become mainstream in the energy and commodities industry.

Before introducing this policy across your workforce it’s well worth considering how it may affect your business.

Ask yourself…

  • Do you have a high percentage of employees with young children?
  • Do you actively want to encourage more of this type of employee?
  • Will it incur extra costs?
  • Could it place an unfair burden on other members of staff?
  • Is there enough to do during the hours the employee wants to work?
  • Could staff get bored with monotony of carrying out the same task for hours on end?
  • Will longer hours create unsafe working conditions?
  • Could it cause problems with arranging meetings?
  • Will it impact on your employees’ travel arrangements? Will they be travelling home late at night when public transport is limited?
  • Could it affect your company’s ability to meet customer demand?
  • Are you happy for members of staff to work unsupervised for lengthy periods of time?
  • Will they be able to access to building earlier or later in the day? Are you happy to hand out keys?

Employees have a statutory right to request flexible working hours and it’s best to be prepared as many will.

THE PROS

  • Enhanced work/life balance for employees
  • Increased productivity

Certas Energy offer various types of flexible working options including compressed hours and as Resourcing Manager, Georgina Chambi comments, “We really value the benefits of having a flexible workforce not just in terms of being able to cater and adapt to the needs of our customers but also the higher levels of engagement and productivity that it drives amongst our colleagues.”

  • Extended business hours - great for customer service
  • Easier commute means that staff will be on time for work, less stressed and happier as it has potentially cost them less to get to work – a win win
  • Employees can retain full pay and staff benefits
  • Better balance of high workload periods
  • Proven reduction in absenteeism

THE CONS

  • Possible under staffing at key times

    This is a problem for J Rix & Sons as managing director, Rory Clarke, highlights. “Some of our team work a basic 5 x 8 hour week, and the logical change is to compress this into a 4 x 10 hour week. However seasonal fluctuations in demand and the fact that there can be higher demand on some weekdays more than others, make compressed hours less flexible and therefore unlikely for us to adopt in our fuels business.”
  • Difficulty in scheduling meetings
  • Longer working hours may cause fatigue and lower productivity

    For this reason fuel distributor, James D Bilsland does not offer compressed hours as assistant manager, Jodie Allan explains: “Although I am sure compressed working would be popular, longer shifts would require sustained and continuous effort, which could theoretically lead to unsafe working practices towards the end of a shift due to fatigue.”
  • Staff may not be supervised for lengthy periods of time
  • Increased risk of injury or error

Attracting the best talent

In our experience, organisations that offer compressed hours are always a huge draw for potential candidates and it is well worth looking at how this way of working may fit within your company.

Eleven recruitment consultant, Jane New also believes that offering compressed hours or flexible working is a good way to keep hold of your best employees: “One candidate we spoke to was on the verge of resigning until she asked her employer if she could compress her hours. It allowed her to spend extra time at home with her family but still achieve her work objectives. Twelve months later, the company in question had adopted the policy across its entire workforce, recognising that they were at a high risk of losing valuable talent by not offering a more progressive way to work.”

If you are thinking of introducing compressed or flexible working hours, feel free to contact Eleven, the new name for Oil Recruitment, for a more detailed view on how this benefit may help you to attract new recruits.