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Business adjusting corporate culture

Date posted:  8/24/15 10:15:00 AM Businesses are allowing more people to work flexible hours.

There's been an adjustment in corporate culture in regard to flexible work schedules for employees, according to Laura Timm, vice president of corporate communication and public affairs at Briggs & Stratton Corp.

"In 21 years, I have seen the shift occur in the workplace from a very strict 8-to-5 day to a more flexible environment," Timm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I have seen what I believe to be happier, more productive employees."

And now that summer is in session and warmer days have arrived, many businesses are making it easier for employees to take longer weekends by allowing them to head home early on Fridays. That's allowed many companies to raise employee morale without hurting their productivity, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

"At a time when many organizations are asking people to do more with less, providing workplace flexibility is a way to get at morale issues with a relative low cost, or no cost, to the employer," said Lisa Horn, co-leader of the Society's Workplace Flexibility Initiative.

Take the afternoon
For outboard engine manufacturer Mercury Marine, white-collar workers are offered the chance to work 40 hours in four and a half days in order to have a clear Friday afternoon during the summer.

Denise Devereaux, vice president of human resources at Mercury Marine, told the Sentinel that the arrangement is one of the company's most valued benefits.

"We don't see a drop in productivity," she said. "In fact, I think the exact opposite occurs. People are so excited about being able to have that half day off … they're extremely focused in their regular hours."

Mercury Marine encourages its employees to be active and get outside, and offering flexible hours allows workers more time to go boating and use products designed by the company.

"For us, it seems like a logical fit," Devereaux said. "Our employees are going to have a better understanding of how customers use our products if they're able to use the products themselves."

Retaining employees improves with flexible hours
Fox Business reported that more than half of all business owners regarded flexible hours as their top perk for retaining talent outside of an increase in pay.

"We see much more than a third of the clients we support being fine with [flexible hours]," Dave Casper, head of commercial banking for a firm in the Midwest, told Fox Business. "There may be a cap, but I think we're at the early stages of this, especially in terms of new business formation."

The Society for Human Resource Management. which surveyed 1,051 organizations with more than 50 employees, revealed that 43 percent of employers surveyed allowed at least some of their workforce to condense their work week through logging longer hours on fewer days. That's a five percent increase from 2008 when a comparable survey was conducted.

Full-time employees are also more likely to work from home on occasion. Smaller companies are more likely to offer workers the chance to alter their schedules.

Quality Tool & Die, in West Allis, Wisconsin, lets its workers set their hours year-round. The only requirements are that all business deadlines are met and that the workers aren't logging hours alone.

"I am always here 10 hours a day … so if someone wants to come in a little early, or take time off during the day for something, that's fine with me," company owner Ron Loos told the Sentinel.

​Loos said many of his employees decide to start their day early so they can have their afternoons free.

"My guys have been coming in (this summer) at 6 a.m. or 6:30, and they're out of here by 3:30 unless they want to work longer," Loos said.