5 Things to Consider When Employees Ask to Reduce Their Hours

Reduced Work HoursOver the past year, there has been a lot of media attention placed on companies asking their employees to reduce their hours. Some employees accepted their cut work hours with a smile, while others went in search of a second job to pay the mortgage. But, what about when the shoe is on the other foot? What do you do when an employee comes to you and asks to reduce their hours?

Everyone’s situation is different, so the decision that is best for your company can vary. But, when you’re considering your response, keep these points in mind.

1) Performance Record
Decreasing an employee’s work schedule actually increases the need for self-motivation and high performance. So, if the employee is already a low or mediocre performer, they are not going to magically increase their productivity just because their hours are reduced from 40 to 30. But, for hard-working employees, allowing them to change their work schedule can be a great way to show your appreciation for their dedication.

2) Workload
Depending on how many hours are reduced, you will probably have to reallocate at least a portion of the employee’s workload if you decide to approve their request. No matter how quickly someone works, they cannot be expected to complete the same number of projects in 20 hours a week as in 40 hours. Discuss with the employee what tasks can be kept and what tasks will have to be redistributed.

3) Effect on Team
If a lot of work will be redistributed, you need to consider how it will affect the other members of your team who will take on the additional load. You may even need to consider and budget for the possibility of bringing on a contract worker or project professional to help cover the extra work during busy times. When someone isn’t onsite the same amount of time as the majority of the team, it can also interfere with communication and camaraderie. So, be aware of the challenge, and make sure to maintain open, honest communication.

4) Money
If your team’s overall production level isn’t effected, then you’re going to save money. Besides saving money from the reduced salary, you may also save money if the employee is no longer eligible for benefits due to the reduced hours. And, keep in mind that should you deny the employee’s request, it could cost you in the form of turnover (link to http://www.expresspros.com/us/turnover.aspx).

5) Your Plan
If you grant the employee’s request, then you must be prepared to communicate the change to your team. From fielding concerns about the extra workload to dealing with additional requests to reduce hours, you need to be ready for the effect this change can have. You also need to be prepared for what could happen if you deny the employee’s request.

If the situation allows for it, enabling an employee to work the schedule that best fits their life circumstances can be a real benefit. The employee feels relieved and valued and is less likely to get burned out, while you enjoy the benefits of increased employee loyalty and decreased payroll expenses. Just make sure to consider all sides of the situation and make the best decision for your team.

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