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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

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Building Corporate Muscle with Flex Time

Posted by on December 13, 2009 at 9:58 pm

In today’s New York Times, economist and author Sylvia Ann Hewlett discusses the merits of flex time for both corporations and employees in the article, “Making Flex Time a Win-Win.” Much like my two-part blog post earlier this year that touted the benefits to your business of implementing a telework program, flex time too can be a powerful catalyst for increasing employee morale and productivity.

Hewlett points out that flex time is a win-win in today’s economy since many workers will be happy to take less pay if their managers give them a more flexible work schedule. So not only could employers save money by embracing a flex time program, they could also get more out of their employees.

Flex time can come in a number of forms. For example, it may mean working four days a week for a total of 32 hours, and receiving 80% of the pay. Women are particularly attracted to flex time as Hewlett notes, since they are increasingly out-earning their husbands, while still facing domestic duties at home (e.g., as a mother).

A successful female employee and mother typically faces the dilemma of either quitting her job or living with the guilt of not spending more time with her kids at home while they are young. If the mother decides to leave her job, then the company loses out on the talent and investment in that employee. Flex time can potentially keep her at work, contributing to the company’s success, while possibly helping the company save money at the same time.

Ms. Hewlett is the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, author of nine non-fiction books on business, and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize. She has taught at Cambridge, Columbia, and Princeton.

Her latest book, Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business is Down,” was released in October. Jeffrey Kindler, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer: “The right book at the right time. With skill and conviction, Hewlett provides new insight into motivating your top performers during tough times and preparing your organization for renewed innovation and growth.”

As we have discussed here in numerous blog posts over the last year, tough times are exactly when your company should invest in its best performers and mine all the talent your employees have to offer. This investment can come in the form of enhanced incentive rewards programs, imaginative leadership training, and other innovative programs to spur creative thinking and performance.

It will require a management team who is willing to embrace change, e.g., how and when employees work — in short, a team willing to flex different muscles. I’m guessing you’ll like how the results will look on you and your company.