Do you say that you’re a ” flexible workplace”? Perhaps flexible working makes a mention on your job ads or careers page? You might even have a policy, a couple of part time employees, and someone who works from home once a week?
If you’re an employer that doesn’t offer flexibility at all, that’s one thing – and fine as long as you’re upfront about it and it’s working for you. It’s the employers who say they’re flexible – and most of the time with good intention – that can be causing more harm than good with their execution, or lack thereof.
In fact, a recent study has shown that even within organizations that have gone as far as to implement a flexible working policy, just 30% of employees within these workplaces actually feel comfortable announcing that they’re leaving the workplace ‘early’ or within ‘normal’ business hours. This highlights that there’s still a lot of work to be done – beyond just policy development – to ensure that a cohesive, consistent approach is taken to flexible working, thereby creating authentic flexible workplaces. It will be these workplaces that truly realise the multitude of benefits of flexible working.
Ask yourself as an employer if you recognise some or all of these 3 traits:
1. THE FLEXIBLE WORKING EXISTS IN YOUR BUSINESS – BUT IN POCKETS.
Under certain forward-thinking leaders flexible working arrangements in their various forms are in full swing, but the opposite is true within other teams in the business. In fact, the harder you look, you find you have a collection of ‘micro-cultures’ and everyone’s headed in the same direction more by good luck than good measure. You may even be making mention of flexibility as a selling point within your recruitment process, but could you really hand-on-heart say that a new person will enjoy the benefits of a flexible working culture without a consistent, top-driven approach, policies and processes in place and without leaders role- modelling flexible working across the board?
2. MANAGEMENT OF PERFORMANCE IS REACTIVE.
You and your leaders are always reacting to ‘bottom of the cliff’ stuff when it comes to your people’s performance. Mostly you make sure The Annual Appraisal is done, but boy is it an ordeal – booking them all in, the paper trail, the follow-up… and making sure everyone has one. Truth be told, you’re not really sure they’re beneficial. If this is the case, and you do have flexible workers, without an outcome-based, goal-oriented and ‘live’ approach to performance, how can you tell your people are working effectively? And even if you have trust in your people, without educated, empowered leaders who are confident managing by output, how can you be sure of consistency across your team?
3. TOXIC UNDERTONES.
Have there been cases of burn-out in your team? Can you retain your star people? Could some feel resentment when a ‘part time’ person leaves at 2.30pm – and could a part time person feel guilty for leaving? These are all really unhelpful states and emotions for a productive, engaged workforce.
If any of these traits are sounding any alarm bells, don’t worry, there’s a solution.
Adopt flexible working by default. This means setting firm foundations for a flexible workforce with a strategy and policies for your managers to go by. This will ensure a consistent approach and it will make flexible working available – in some way, shape or form – to all. Effectively, this means people have to ‘opt in’ to the 9-5.
Then make sure your leaders know what ‘good’ looks like. Ensure the systems and education are there to create a goal-oriented performance culture. One where performance isn’t something you check-in on annually but is something that is discussed between employee and manager on an ongoing regular basis with clear outcomes set, achieved and re-set. This means you have a system in place to know people are working effectively, no matter where or when the work gets done.
We love helping organisations with culture transformation, so if you suspect you’re suffering from being an inauthentic flexible workplace, we can help. Get in touch with Freerange Works on 0800 04 FLEX or contact me.