The University Record, March 29, 1999

Team studies use of flex time

By Jane R. Elgass

Flextime. Job sharing. Compressed work week. Telecommuting. Phased retirement. Seasonal leaves. Part-time/voluntary reduced time.

All of these are options to the traditional 8 a.m.-5 p.m. workday that are being explored by corporations and institutions nationwide as they adjust to an environment in which current and potential employees are seeking some flexibility as they try to manage multiple demands on their time. These demands include child care, elder care, readjustment following an illness, personal growth pursuits or continuing education.

While some U-M units have incorporated flexible scheduling of some sort, no one knows to what extent it is being done. Questions related to this issue were raised last fall at a forum for women staff members hosted by President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost Nancy Cantor.

As a result, a seven-member team has been appointed by Human Resources/Affirmative Action to:

  • Define current flexible work schedule options.

  • Assess how U-M options compare with those of peer institutions.

  • Create a description of options that would be distributed to U-M employees.

  • Identify opportunities and challenges, and recommend strategies for future planning.

    The team, chaired by Diane Benson, Employment Services, has been asked to submit a report to HR/AA Executive Director Jackie R. McClain by June. Other members of the team are Cindee Bryant, Human Resource Development; Leslie de Pietro, Family Care Resources Program; Sally Grace, Equity and Diversity Services; Joyce Stilwell, U-M Dearborn Human Resources; Brian Vacher, Benefits Office; Lorna Hurl, Faculty and Staff Assistance Program; and Debbie Waters, Employee Relations.

    To assess the current situation at the University, the Flex Team has devised a questionnaire that accompanies this article. It also can be found on the Web at www.umich.edu/~hraa/familycare/flextime/. Team members encourage everyone--support staff, managers, supervisors, those using flexible scheduling and those who are not--to complete the form and return it by April 12. The group also can be reached via e-mail sent to flexsurvey@umich.edu.