Flexibility in the workplace optimises resources, improves productivity and boosts sustainability, according to a new report by the Diversity Council Australia (DCA), but many businesses continue to see flexibility as special treatment rather than a tool for success.
The report, Get Flexible: Mainstreaming Flexible Work in Australian Business reviews options to assist businesses to achieve and sustain higher production levels.
The findings from the report showed that while many employees have access to ‘basic’ flexible work options, more significant options are being overlooked. Businesses need to break the mould that flexibility is not “special treatment” given to an individual but an imperative tool for success.
DCA’s CEO, Nareen Young, said the research sheds valuable light on the barriers to flexibility and suggests new ways of approaching the issue.
“Leading employers have provided a range of flexible work policies and options for many years now. But flexibility is still not viewed as a valid and legitimate management tool and career choice in contemporary Australian workplaces. This represents an enormous missed opportunity for a more productive and sustainable workforce,” said Young.
According to the research, businesses need to “think outside the square to find new approaches to flexible options.”
Here are some key strategies that can be integrated into your business;
1. Get creative: Try implementing flexibility into job roles to suit the employees needs, explore the possibility of technology and alternative work for those wanting flexible working hours.
2. Get career-focused: As well as implementing flexibility into job roles, create flexible career opportunities including senior roles.
3. Get inclusive: Ensure employees that work on a “flexible” basis are accepted in the workforce. Flexible work also needs to be available to all, addressing what will works best for employees will be reflected in productivity.
4. Get leading: Ensure senior management have an effect approach to flexibility and have the necessary tools to manage a flexible workforce.
5. Get talking: Show the business benefits of a flexible workforce within your team, having your employees’ support and co-operation with flexible hours will make it work.
6. Get strategising: Create strategies for a long-term flexible workspace; report the progress of the new system as well as the outcomes.
7. Get resourced: Equip people with the tools and resourcing they need for flexibility (e.g. IT access, training)
8. Get ROI: Engage in risk (e.g. not being flexible) vs return (e.g. retaining a skilled workforce) discussions. Be sure to discuss the impact of flexible work and possible financial returns.
9. Get proactive: Look for opportunities to integrate flexibility into day-to-day business operations.
10. Get team-focused: Consider the impact of flexible work on the whole team, and always welcome team feedback, by identifying what works and what doesn’t within your team will ensure a successful business environment.