With the unemployment rate hovering around the 5.5%, finding and keeping great people is vital to organisational success. If a good employee needs to work flexibly after returning from parental leave or for carers leave or for some other equally important and valid reason, it’s important to implement this smoothly both for them and for others in the organisation.
To follow are some key strategies for implementing flexible work successfully you need to consider.
- Get designing: Integrate flexibility into job descriptions, job and work design, and teams; integrate flexibility into performance reviews & development plans; assess performance on outcomes, and recognise outcomes can be met in different ways; treat flexibility as a management deliverable; explore possibilities of technology and alternative work strategies.
- Get cultural: Ensure those who work flexibly are “accepted”; base relationships and expectations on trust; ensure flexible work is seen as the way things are done around here; challenge the stigma of working flexibly.
- Get leading: Senior leaders genuinely commit to flexible work; leaders lead by example – they are effective role models for flexibility; leaders have an active approach to mainstreaming flexibility; leaders have the capabilities to manage a majority flexible workforce; all staff have the necessary skills to engage in flexible work.
- Get talking: Show the business benefits; redefine flexible work by bringing it to life with examples; illustrate success stories – provide the details to enable others to copy; show how flexible work arrangements work on a practical level.
- Get strategising: Identify flexible work as a business need; have a long term business commitment to flexible work; create a strategy for a majority flexible workforce – this is part of workforce planning; report progress and outcomes as part of standard business reporting.
- Get universal: Foster a genuine acceptance of flexible work by all; ensure flexible work is available to all, regardless of job type or level; educate clients/customers and the community about flexible work.
- Get resourced: Equip people with the tools they need (eg IT, team-based processes); provide appropriate resourcing for flexibility; review policy and systems that may impede flexibility implementation; explore new ways of meeting clients’ needs and consult clients and customers about this.
- Get ROI: Engage in risk (eg not being flexible) vs return (eg retaining a skilled workforce) discussions; make the connection between flexibility and increased individual, team and organisational performance; measure the impact of flexible work and show the financial returns.
- Get proactive: Look for opportunities to integrate flexibility into day-to-day business operations; focus on ‘why not flexibility’ rather than looking for reasons to ’block’ flexibility.
- Get team-focussed: Consider the impact of flexible work on the whole team; focus on support from within and across teams; welcome team-based feedback on the impact of flexibility; create flexibly autonomous teams.
This information was derived from the Diversity Council Australia, Get flexible or get real: It’s time to make flexible working a legitimate career choice (2012).
For more information on paternity leave and returning to the workforce, see our resources on http://selectionpartners.com.au/resources/