In the modern working environment, flexible working has ceased to be a ground-breaking practice and has developed into an established paradigm.
Technological advancements, improved communication systems, and an increased consideration has been given to the importance of maintaining work-life balance. It’s no longer a means to attract the millennial working market but a viable policy that converts and improves existing business practices.
A recent study from Timewise claims that in the UK alone, 87% of full-time workers currently operate within a flexible working arrangement or would like to do so, with millennials (or those aged between 18-34) existing as frontrunners, with 73% working flexibly.
As flexible working policies of the past were designed to only provide support and benefits for working mothers, recent changes in UK laws paralleled by the increasing implementation of zero-hour contracts have allowed the policy to be enacted across all industries, allowing all employees to benefit from the wide-ranging advantages.
Flexible working can mean a number of different things. As a manager, it is your job to decide what kind of policy you will assimilate into your workplace environment.
Here are a few of the most common types of arrangements:
1. Job Sharing
Job sharing is when two people are employed on a part-time basis for the same role.
For example, you could have two part-time secretaries that split the contracted hours of a full-time position over the course of a week, month, or year.
2. Compressed Hours
Compressed hours are when a contracted employee works full-time hours (35-40 hours a week) but in a shorter number of consecutive days, resulting in longer shifts.
This tactic is used frequently for IT departments and shift work.
Flexi-time allows employees to choose when to begin and end work (within limits) as long as 8-9 hours per day are achieved.
This policy generally includes ‘core hours,’ which specify the hours that staff must be in the office, often 10 am to 4 pm.
4. Annualized Hours
Annualized hours arguably give your staff the most freedom and flexibility within their schedules, as it only stipulates how many hours they must work within a year-long period.
Like flexi-time, this type of policy may include core hours in which employees will have to work regularly during the working week.
5. Phased Retirement
Phased retirement is targeted at older and elderly staff, but is also an effective, flexible policy to put in place for the future of your younger staff.
It allows for members of staff to push back their retirement age and instead reduce their hours and work part-time in order to transition into retirement easier while also easing the stress of workload handover.
Why Should You Put in Place a Flexible Working Policy?
In the current economic climate, valuable staff retention has become a top priority for all firms, and a top-down management process facilitating a flexible working policy exists as a small step to achieving this in a long-term orientation.
Among other performance-based benefits, such policies aim to:
- Re-establish the importance of work-life balance
- Minimize the company’s accumulated carbon footprint by reducing commuting time for staff
- Encourage more time for self-improvement and independent learning
- Give employees more opportunities to care for their families
As we’ve already discussed, flexible working policies of some description are widely used in UK organizations.
Although many employees understand the benefits of flexible working, making the policy successful from a leadership role can prove to be challenging.
How do I Implement a Flexible Working Policy?
1. Create a clear and concise process for how the flexible working policy will work across every facet of the organization. This should be informative, easy to follow, documented, and given to employees, along with the establishment of an open channel of communication for any concerns or queries.
2. Establish the responsibilities and roles of each member of staff, management, and HR in making the flexible working policy a victory within your firm.
3. Ensure that all business operations, including but not limited to performance management, can be maintained with a flexible working policy.
This requires a shift from measuring the traditional time clocked per employee to instead measuring staff value based on work and outputs.
4. Start with trial periods across different departments to assess how flexible working initiatives work within your firm’s infrastructure to determine what works and what doesn’t.
In turn, see how flexible working impacts the company culture and make changes accordingly to accommodate the easiest transition.
5. Lead by example and take charge. The hardest part of making a flexible working policy successful is its integration into everyday business practice.
As the policy progresses, you will also experience a range of new individual requests from staff testing limits of the flexibility in place; therefore, regular leadership training on how to manage a flexible workforce is needed to continue the policy’s success.
6. Don’t forget that any policy that allows employees to work outside of the office comes with online and offline security risks. These need to be identified with appropriate training and solutions put into place.
How Can Leaders Implement a Flexible Working Policy?
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