Updated July 2 at 7:29am

Flexibility is key to getting more from employees

Companies are finding out that allowing employees to work flexible schedules can add to productivity, morale and retention rates without severely affecting business in any negative way, according to a survey of companies in 39 countries.

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Focus: HUMAN RESOURCES

Flexibility is key to getting more from employees

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Companies are finding out that allowing employees to work flexible schedules can add to productivity, morale and retention rates without severely affecting business in any negative way, according to a survey of companies in 39 countries.

“Flexible schedules make good business sense,” said Eileen M. Rafferty, director of account services for RIEAS (Rhode Island Employee Assistance Services) in Warwick.

Her agency is all about keeping employees happy. RIEAS deals with approximately 180 employers across the country, Rafferty said, and is contracted by businesses to counsel workers with personal problems ranging from legal and financial woes to substance abuse.

At Grant Thornton International Ltd., which opened a Providence office this month, flexible schedules are readily acceptable in most job categories at its New England locations, said David A. Platt, assistant managing partner for New England. As of Dec. 1, Grant Thornton took over Platt’s regional accounting firm, CCR LL and its four offices in Providence, Hartford, Boston and Westborough, Mass. Platt, a Portsmouth resident who grew up on Aquidneck Island, was a partner in CCR LL.

Platt told Providence Business News he personally is “passionate” about the benefits of flexible scheduling. “When employees are happy, they are more productive,” he said.

The practice meshes well with Grant Thornton’s philosophy of fostering “the highest and best use” of its employees, he noted. About 20 percent of Thornton’s workers in New England are on permanent flexible schedules, with another 20 percent working flex schedules at certain times of the year, according to Platt.

He expects those numbers to increase in the years ahead, particularly after the company adds 15 workers to the Exchange Terrace office in the coming weeks. Platt said some workers will be hired and others relocated to Providence; within two years, plans call for the local office to grow to 50 employees, he added, noting Grant Thornton is one of the largest accounting firms in the world.

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