Helping Hourly Workers Start to Get in on the Flex-Work Trend

Call this the other end of the spectrum from the recent TLNT story about how some brain-dead and backward companies were punishing employees for utilizing work-life programs.

Yes, it is hard to believe, but here’s a look at more forward-looking companies that actually offer that flex work to some hourly and factory workers.

According to a recent story in The Wall Street Journal:

Companies in industries that rely heavily on hourly or low-wage workers, such as manufacturing, retail, food service, hospitality, health care and call centers, are exploring ways to provide more scheduling flexibility and control to a population that has rarely been offered such workplace benefits.

Some companies, such as health-care provider Kaiser Permanente and hotelier Marriott International, have implemented a range of innovative policies for their hourly staffers, such as providing paid time off in shorter, part-day increments, so workers can manage doctor or school appointments without having to take an entire day off. They are also providing more leeway on start and end times — allowing workers to shift their start time earlier to be available for a school pickup, for instance.”

This makes me wonder, if some companies can make this work for hourly employees in factoriy-type work environments, why can’t a lot more organizations figure out a way to make this work as well?

As I’ve pointed out before, flexible schedules, flexible working arrangements, and smart policies that recognize that the balance between work and the rest of your life is important and drives higher levels of employee engagement. Workers desperately want all of that, so why are so many managers and executives so clueless about it?

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Well, this is a good-news story about some smarter employers who have figured out a way to make life a little bit easier for workers by helping them with more flexible work schedules. My bet is that this kind of thinking will pay big dividends, but you should take a read and see what you think.

Turck Inc., a manufacturer of automation equipment, is considering allowing its front-line factory workers to do something unlikely: work from home.

The Plymouth, Minn., company, which has 400 workers, has been seeking ways to give its employees more control over their schedules. One idea, allowing workers to do some tasks from home — a white-collar perk that has largely eluded factory workers — could help keep retention and employee-satisfaction rates high, the company says.”

For more of this story, click here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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