To celebrate Flexible Working Day 2019, we turn the spotlight to our employer partners leading the way in flexibility.
The following article has been submitted to us by Kellogg’s Australia:
Well it may not be as easy as the headline leads you to believe, but in just 6 months since Kellogg’s Australia launched its new flexible working programme they’re already seeing the positive impact it’s having on employee morale, productivity and overall well-being.
In celebration of Flexible Working Day and helping to spread the benefits of flex, Kellogg’s shares their experience from building and embedding the new ‘flex’ way of working, as well as the early benefits (and learnings) for the business from empowering their employees to work in a way that allows them to deliver their best work.
Making the business case for Flex Working
For flex working to succeed you really need to build a programme that starts with the WHY. Why is it important for the business to offer flexible working? Why do people need flexible working? Why is it important for our company? Answering these questions helps you to build a strong business case for the change.
Flexibility is now integral to the future of work – it is the way people want to work and more and more research shows that it is also a great way to enable people to operate at their best, getting the best results for the business.
Flex also helps you to capture and attract a wider variety of people – increasing your talent pool – and increasing diversity in your company. For Kellogg’s, we know that diversity of people and ideas creates value for our customers through representing a workforce that’s as diverse as our consumers.
When you get flex working well – it is a win-win for the business, its people and for the consumer.
Creating a programme that is fit for purpose
Employees have a myriad of different needs when it comes to flexible working, so you need to build flex into your flex offering.
Before we kicked off our programme, we did a lot of research with our employees to understand what they were looking for from flex. Our workforce represents a wide range of generations, each with their own needs for flexibility whether that be employees wanting better work/life balance, juggling child, family / carer responsibilities (including those with ageing parents) or wanting to remain meaningfully engaged with the business but not in from the traditional 9-5 working week sense.
We also leveraged and engaged our external networks to generate new and creative ideas whilst also taking onboard learnings from other organisations who were further down the flex journey.
Once the research is done, developing a programme that is fit for purpose is easy.
We launched K-Flex to provide a best in class program for our people. To do this we created four categories within the Flex Programme – Flex Schedule, Flex Place, Flex Job and Flex Leave that everyone could access. We are also conscious not to be prescriptive, the policy is more of a ‘guide’ to flex, the policy in itself needed to be ‘flexible’.
Embedding flex as the new norm
We then needed to embed the change – and create flex as the new norm.
As with all change programmes buy in and role modelling from your leaders – both your c-suite and your people managers – is critical. Prior to launch, we spent a lot of time up front taking them on the journey and then helping them to live the flex ways of working and lead by example.
We also created advocates at all levels, not just leaders. Invariably there will be people working flexibly in your organisation. Find those people and encourage them to share their stories to help highlight, advocate and normalise flex as a way of working in your business. Celebrating the programme and reminding people that you can work flexibly on National Flex day is a great moment in time to tap into.
It’s not a set and forget strategy – we are on a ‘flex journey’ and you need to have an always on communications approach around Flex to keep it live, visible and have fun! Whilst we have had some great wins, we have also taken out some key learnings and acted upon these (ie. equipping managers with the tools to address concerns on Flex arrangements) – it is important to regularly check in on what’s working well and what can be improved to truly keep the flex journey live.
Celebrate the benefits and continue evolving
It’s still early days in the K-Flex programme but celebrating the results and benefits is also a key way to embed and encourage further up-take.
After 6 months of the program being in place, we are hearing some great feedback from our employees like “My manager encourages me to work from a location that I’m most effective – I feel trusted & empowered and more productive” and “Having a day off to look after my well-being was amazing, I came back feeling recharged and refocused”
These comments show you the benefits for employees. We have had an increase in formal (i.e. permanent) flex arrangements and a 40% uptake already of one of our new flex leave benefits.
Capturing and sharing these stories and benefits helps remind you, your business and your employees of the WHY you build a flex programme in the first place.
There is a lot of work in building a strong flex programme but the benefits for your current and future workforce are worth it.