Flexibility in the workplace

"Flexibility in where, when and how work is undertaken is a priority for most employees at different times in their careers if employers are to attract and retain staff they need to offer and support flexibility at their workplace".

Workplace flexibility is a critical component of any attraction and retention strategy. Australian and international research clearly indicates that employees, be they Baby Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y, perceive flexibility in when, where and how they achieve their work commitments to be a key factor in maintaining their motivation and commitment to their employer. Best Practice employers have put processes in place that ensure their responses and management of flexible work options meet the requirements of the legislation, are non-discriminatory and address the needs of the business and the employee.

All Roles Flex

A new concept implemented by organisations such as Telstra, ANZ Bank, and the ASX promotes All Roles Flex. Supported by their CEO's the organisation's promote the belief that all roles can be undertaken flexibly, and that the employee does not need to justify or disclose their reasons for their application. So saying No means that the manager has to demonstrate very strong business reasons for that decision. This approach demands a massive shift in corporate culture, behaviours and attitudes. This highlights the need for manager education and support.

Can managers manage flexibility issues?flex illustrations 1

The data collected by Managing Work|Life Balance and other international researchers has found that organisations are often hindered in their attempts to implement flexible work arrangements by leaders in their organisation who find it difficult to change their views about the value of flexible working.

Furthermore,many managers/leaders feel they are not competent enough to manage flexibility within their work teams. This reinforces the need for organisations to take action and not only develop a workplace culture that is flexible and responsive to the needs of employees, but also to skill and educate their managers.

Making Flexibility Work @ Work

Our consulting team can assist you to make flexibility work through:

  • The development of a flexible work strategy that will contribute to your "Employer Brand" and assist in the attraction and retention of staff.
  • Identifying the needs of diverse demographic groups such as mature-aged staff who are looking for different flexibility options
  • The provision of advice on developing a workplace culture that is responsive to the needs of staff who need and want to work flexibly
  • Implement an All Roles Flex Strategy,
  • Developing a suite of flexible work options, policies and guidelines that are compliant with current legislation
  • Establishing an ongoing communication strategy to ensure that flexibility is kept in the spotlight, and managers and staff know what is available and how a flexible work arrangement can be established
  • Facilitating workshops and training sessions for managers to skill them in "holding the conversation" with employees who request a flexible work arrangement, and establishing flexible working within their teams
  • Evaluating the success of your strategy.

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Making Flexibility Work: If you are a member of Linkedin, click here to see our Discussion Page. (If you are not a member, you can also click this link to join.)

Flexible Work Arrangement Tool Kit

A practical, tried and tested suite of materials that give Managers, HR Professionals and Employees the tools and information they need to implement and make flexibility work, in their workplace.

The Kits were designed and tested by our consulting team, who have over 25 years experience in partnering with clients to implement flexible work arrangements. The Flexible Work Arrangement Tool Kits are regularly upgraded to reflect the changing needs of Employers and Employees. Changes to employment legislation and the introduction of the Fair Work Act mean that employers need to have a process in place to manage and respond appropriately to requests for a flexible work arrangement. These Tool Kits provide a sound basis for that process.

The Flexible Work Implementation Guide

This Kit is designed for HR Professionals and Managers who are responsible for the implementation of flexible work arrangements within their workplace. It provides information on compliance issues such as those contained in the Fair Work Act 2010.

The Employee and Manager Guidesside flexkit

These materials provide a basis for an application for a flexible work option and transparent decision-making which are key components of the new 'right to request a flexible work option' contained within the government's National Employment Standards.

Who needs the Kits?

  • HR Professionals, who are responsible for the attraction and retention of staff.
  • Managers who are responsible for the ‘engagement’ and retention of staff within their work teams.
  • Executives and Leaders who need to support a workplace culture that is flexible and responsive to the needs of employees.
  • Employees who want and need to build their business case for a flexible work arrangement and are mutually responsible with their manager for ensuring their flexible work arrangement succeeds.

How will the Kits help?

The kits include detailed information that will enable managers, employees and team members to:

  • Work together to develop appropriate flexible work arrangements that meet the needs of the individual, the team and the business
  • Comply with legislation that relates to the 'right to request' a flexible work arrangement
  • Create win/win solutions to sometimes challenging situations where implementing flexibility requires considerable change to the way work is undertaken
  • Develop the business case/proposal for a flexible work option that is based on sound research and realistic options
  • Consult and communicate with stakeholders to ensure that the 'set up' of a flexible work arrangement has minimal impact on the internal or external client/customer.

What’s in the Kits?

1. The Employee Guide assists the Employee to build their business case for change, gain an understanding of the impact of the change on their job role, their work/life balance and their contribution to the team. It includes:

  • A step-by-step guide to assessing their personal need for flexibility and understanding the implications of the change
  • Information on the organisation's flexible work options policies
  • A 'business case' pro forma (this can be customised for clients)
  • Options to consider if the initial request needs to be modified
  • Guidance on establishing success criteria
  • Implementation and evaluation steps.

2. The Manager Guide highlights the benefits of flexible working and outlines the decision-making process to be used when reviewing a request for flexible working. It includes:

  • Information about the organisation's policies and practices
  • Discussion guides to be used when responding to requests from employees
  • Suggestions on record-keeping and notetaking
  • Hints on 'risk management' issues
  • Suggestions on managing performance and establishing monitoring processes
  • Templates for establishing a flexible work agreement
  • Implementation guidelines.

3. The Implementation Guide is designed for the HR Practitioner or Manager who is supporting others to implement flexible work arrangements within the workplace. It contains information about:

  • The importance of workplace flexibility
  • Bottom-line benefits of flexibility in the workplace
  • Implementation issues and ways to develop win/win solutions
  • Overcoming Roadblocks and Myths
  • Communicating about Flexible Working
  • Flexibility Team Planning Process
  • Hints and Tips to Achieve Success.

In each booklet, there are examples and case studies that can be tailored to reflect the organisation's business environment.

Clients may purchase the license to produce these Kits within their organisations. They can be tailored to meet specific business environments, and can be placed on the organisation's intranet. Contact Managing Work|Life Balance for more information.

Workplace Flexibility Training

Educating and skilling executives and managers has been identified as one of the major contributors to the development of a flexible workplace culture. Providing managers with the tools to manage flexibility issues within their teams helps to build their confidence and enables them to develop a team culture where flexible working becomes ‘the way we work here’.

How we can help

Our highly participative workshops are based on adult learning principles and include a range of activities such as case studies, group discussions and skills practices to ensure the full involvement of all participants. We offer sessions for staff at all levels of the organisation.

1 Flexible Work - Master Class

This is a high level workshop designed specifically for Senior Managers and HR Professionals who need to manage the implementation of flexible working within their business units. The workshop is tailored to meet the specific needs of each organisation. Key components include:

  • Establishing non discriminatory application and decision making processes
  • Understanding the concept of All Roles Flex (where this applies in the organisation)
  • Managing requests for flexible arrangements
  • Dealing with challenges and difficult situations
  • Implementing flexible work arrangements into the team environment – steps to ensure success for the team, the individual and the business.
  • Skill practices and case study scenarios that deal with real ‘implementation issues and provide the opportunity for participants to 'practice' in a safe environment.
  • Coaching steps for HR and other Leaders who need to manage flexibility through Supervisors and Team Leaders who report to them.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the flexibility within your business team

We work with you to build the most appropriate experience for your Managers and HR Professionals, We also provide fully customised work books and guides for each workshop participant. Please contact us for further details. 

2 Senior Manager Briefings

Senior management sessions focus on strategic business issues and outcomes and are customised for each client to meet specific organisational needs.

The sessions can include an overview of compliance issues, particularly those relating to the new Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations relating to Women on Boards and Diversity requirements, as well as the Fair Work Act 2010. As well, emphasis can be given to the issues relating to the attraction and retention of talent. Our consultants would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you your specific needs and priorities and develop an appropriate briefing session.

3 Manager Workshops and Briefing Sessions

Since the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2010, as well as participating in the culture change process where the organisation has adopted the All Roles Flex, approach to flexible working, it has become even more important to provide managers with both the skills and processes to ensure their ability to manage such situations. All too often, leaders have not had the experience or training to manage the introduction of flexible working, in their teams, in a positive way.

Our workshops, training programs and briefing sessions provide

  • guidance,
  • skills,
  • practical tools and guides, and
  • personal development opportunities

to enable managers and team leaders to implement work/life options and flexible work practices, so as to respond appropriately to the needs of employees in a way which complements and supports business goals and values.

Take action to improve your workplace flexibilty

Our consultants design and facilitate sessions for both managers and employees who wish to access flexible work arrangements within their workplace and ensure their successful implementation. Talk to us about how we can share our experiences and help your organisation meet the needs of your staff. Contact us now