Monday, September 15, 2008

CFOs Like the Idea of Flex Time, but...

Three-quarters of chief financial officers say it’s important to offer employees work life benefits, such as flex time, but nearly two-thirds work for companies that don’t do so, according to a new survey by BDO Seidman.

"In order to grow and compete in today's complex, global business environment, companies have to move beyond viewing flexibility solely as a tool for talent retention or employee satisfaction, and make flexibility matter to all aspects of their business," says BDO Chief Executive Officer Jack Weisbaum.

To gain C-suite support for flexible work life benefits, focus equally on people and business-related goals such as more productive workflows, reduced environmental impact and increases in health care and real estate savings, suggests Cali Williams Yost, who co-developed BDO's flexibility strategy and is president of Work+Life Fit, Inc.

BDO and Work+Life Fit’s 2008 CFO Perspectives on Work Life Flexibility study was based on telephone interviews with 100 CFOs at companies with at least 5,000 employees.

A scant 39 percent of the CFOs surveyed work for companies that offer formal flexibility policies or programs. Additionally, while 75 percent of the CFOs at those companies say flexibility is "very important" or "somewhat important" to the future profitability of their organizations, most think that their management teams (62 percent) see flexibility only as an employee perk or human resources policy.

“There is disparity between the potential bottom-line impact of flexibility and the strategic infrastructure companies have in place to achieve these goals," notes BDO's Weisbaum. "If flexibility is going to have the impact on profitability that CFOs believe it will, then more organizations must consider strategic, business-based flexibility strategies."

Weisbaum doesn’t just talk the flex time talk, he actually walks the walk. His employment contract specifies that he can telecommute from his home in Vero Beach, Fla.

As of this summer, 66% of BDO employees reported using day-to-day flexibility (small, periodic changes in where, when and how work is done) in the past year. And, 14% of employees have a formal flex plan such as telecommuting, reduced schedule or flextime arrangement.

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