Today is Australia’s inaugural Flexible Working Day and a great time to have a conversation about why this is so important.
What is flexibility?
Flexible working simply refers to better meeting the needs of individual employees by being flexible with where and when they carry out their work.
While lots of the literature about Flexible Working points to flexibility being for Millennials and Mums there is a real opportunity to broaden the conversation about how an inclusive approach to flexible working is good for all our people and good for business.
There are lots of reasons to embrace flexibility.
- Talent shortage – To attract and retain top talent now and in the future, flexibility is a key piece of the value proposition. If we have baby boomers looking to transition out of full time work, a great approach to flexible working could be a way of holding onto key talent and institutional knowledge a bit longer. It can also give you an edge in a competitive market for talent.
- The gig economy – Intuit estimates that contingent workers will make up over 40 per cent of the US workforce by 2020. If organisations are not set up to respond and make the most of the changing ways that people want to work, then they could well be left behind.
- Engagement and Retention– However you decide to measure it, we know that a highly engaged workforce directly correlates with better business results across the balanced scorecard. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile for a customer, they are more likely to intervene on a safety issue and they are more likely to jump in and help out when needed even when it falls outside their job description. Those who have choice about how they structure their work are more engaged and if you are better at offering flexible working options than your competitors then you are more likely to retain key talent.
Flexible working at Z
We have a range of flexible working arrangements in place. I work one day a week from home and do school drop off so my husband can make an early meeting. I have a colleague who teaches yoga as a volunteer one morning a week, another colleague who starts early and finishes early to manage his role as carer for his wife, and we have a bunch of people on different part time working arrangements.
At Z we partner with Flex Careers because it is important that potential employees connect Z as a place that promotes flexible working. We believe this helps us attract a broader range of candidates.
What gets in the way?
While there are lots of compelling reasons for organisations make flexibility really work, for many it is still a challenge to bring it to life.
A culture where individual performance is measured by the outcomes delivered is a great place to start. We also need to ask ourselves whether in our organisation, it is easier for our managers to say no than to say yes to requests for flexible working arrangements. If it is, what are we doing about that?
Julie has been with Z since 2010, and has held a number of roles in the organisation, including customer experience and retail operations management.