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7 Signs That You Need Flexible Work Arrangements

Out with rigidity and in with flexible work arrangements! Where do you stand? Let this blog be your guide.

Human capital
Work environment

Christine Chartrand

VP Consulting Services

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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Today’s workforce is not what it used to be. Young, and even older, people are wanting something different, seeking organizations that can offer them a little extra: more women are in the professional field and in full-time jobs, families are juggling 2 careers, generation Y needs great flexibility and expect not to be tied down or adhere to strict guidelines…

Now more than ever, flexible work arrangements are becoming a necessity to be able to attract and retain the crème de la crème. Are you contemplating offering your employees flexible schedules? Here are a few signs that may help you make the right decision!

1- Your retention rate is decreasing

If your organization is suffering from a high turnover rate, you may want to consider flexible work arrangements. There is a lot of discussion around why employees leave, and it may surprise you to know that it’s not always because of the relationship with their managers. Now more than ever, employees are looking for more flexibility, such as flexible work hours or flextime (choosing their start and finish time).

If a company is too rigid in that respect, it could hinder its chances of hiring and keeping qualified personnel. So go back and re-evaluate the causes of turnover in your company. Perhaps competitors are offering more flexibility!

2- Your employees have families and seek work-life balance

If your organization is full of employees that have children and families to take care of, you may want to consider flexible work arrangements.

Think about it, some parents may be juggling daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, rushing home at the end of the day to spend a bit more time with their kids before bedtime, having to find baby-sitters when their kids get sick, which, let’s face it, seems to be every other week!

Offering flexible work locations, such as telecommuting once or twice a week to reduce travel time and be closer to the daycare, can make your most competent employees more appreciative of this work-life balance, and therefore more motivated and focused to do their jobs.

Come to think of it, if you have employees that have a life, period (and we bet you do!), you may also want to consider flexible work hours!

3- Commuting is an issue

If you are looking to hire a very qualified candidate but he/she lives a little too far from the office, offering flexible work arrangements may be the difference between this employee accepting your offer or looking elsewhere.

If commuting is the problem, the option of working from home (or from another office space) might be quite appealing. If your employee prefers working long stretches when at the office to take full advantage of their presence, then compressed hours (choosing to work a lot of overtime/longer days in exchange for a reduced amount of working days a week) may just do the trick.

Not all tasks demand an employee to be physically present at the office. And just imagine all the time in the car, on the train, on the bus, in traffic, can be time spent doing actual work!

4- You have the right technology for flexible work arrangements

Today’s technology and social software’s make it easy to keep in touch with distant employees and offer flexible schedules. It’s almost as if they are in the office!

If you have the right technology and equipment, your employees can effectively communicate internally, answer their phones from a distance, and video conference at any point. This could even mean reduced expenses for office space and furniture, and even less possibility for tardiness!

What’s important is to rethink this false notion that when an employee isn’t physically present at the office, he/she is not working. This may now be considered an old-school way of thinking, and one that may drive away potential employees!

5- You have employees returning from an extended leave

If you have employees that are returning from maternity leave or sick leave, offering them flexible work arrangements may help ease their transition back to work.

Again, flexible hours and/or part-time work can support certain work adaptations they might need, as well as doctor appointments, and other obligations that need to be considered.

These employees may also be more distracted in the beginning of their reintegration, therefore telecommuting is also a way to avoid disruptions at work. And hey, if they are introverts, they might even perform better with less social attention and presence of a large group of people.

6- You understand the balance between trust and control

If you are going to offer flexible work arrangement to your employees, you need to trust that they will get the job done. And although trust can go a long way, it isn’t enough to just have confidence in others; you still need to apply a certain amount of control when offering such flexibility.

Providing guidelines, clear expectations and follow-ups can help monitor work progression. You also need to find ways to evaluate your flexible work arrangements periodically, understand the impact it has on your workforce productivity, and how to continuously improve such flexible programs.

Understand the needs of your human capital and get input from employees and other administrators. It’s important to send a clear message to your employees that you are conveying an environment of trust, and that you understand their need for flexibility, yet, at the same time, that these arrangements are still planned, clearly-defined changes that should not be abused.

7- Your employees have personalities that are unconventional

Finally, if you know your employee’s natural reflexes and character traits, you might already be aware that while some actually prefer a structured routine and bureaucratic settings, others might feel demotivated in such environments.

Now, I am not saying to offer flexible work arrangements on the basis of these types of personalities alone, I am simply stating that these employees may perhaps feel less held back when given options for adaptable working schedules and locations.

So make sure to use assessment tools in order to understand your personnel, both current and potential!

In the end, flexible work arrangements can help increase retention, maintain a work-life balance, reduce commuting time, workplace distractions and ease an employee’s reintegration back to work. You CAN make it work, but you must be prepared to give a certain amount of trust to your workforce. Remember that many employees today are juggling many factors of life and in need of an organization that allows for more independence, flexibility and opportunity to get the job done in places or times that are not your typical 9:00 to 5:00 weekdays. So what’s your decision?

Let us know in the comments below!

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