Negotiating Flexible Work Arrangements

Negotiating Flexible Work Arrangements

A recent study provided us with these stats from the 400 people they quizzed:

  • 11% of working mothers believed they had a flexible working arrangement
  • More than half of Australian women have been discriminated against in the workforce, for being a Mum
  • One in Four were forced to resign because their request for flexible hours or duties were denied

Don’t let luck and hoping for the good faith of your employer be your only guide in obtaining flexible work arrangements.  Follow these steps and put fate in your own hands, put your best foot forward by following these steps:

Actually Ask …..

recent study showed that despite nearly 80% of the population believing that they could benefit from flexible work, they were too afraid to ask for it for fear of how they would be perceived. Rarely will organisations expressly offer flexible working arrangements, so the first step in arranging them is overcoming your fear of being perceived as ‘less committed’ or ‘slack’ and mustering the courage to ask.

If you’re a Mum or Dad returning after paternity leave, the ‘double whammy’ of returning to work and trying to negotiate flexible work arrangements can be particularly daunting. However, if you are in this situation it is always in your best interest to try and negotiate prior to returning to work. This is because if you try to ‘see how the first few months go’ and then your performance suffers as a result, you will be far less likely to be successful in any future negotiations.

Know your rights

What can you ask for?  First port of call – check your organisation’s policy and then check Fair Work Australia.

Leverage the success of others

Although the benefits of flexible work are extensively documented, some managers/organisations are just not able to believe it until they see it. Thus, arm yourself with several real-life examples of successful flexible working, ideally within your organisation, but at the very least, in your job role/or within your industry. This will demonstrate to others that not only can flexible work work, but that it can work for you.  Check out this link for a case study

Prepare your business case

Keep in mind that this is a business case.  You need to focus on the benefits to the business for you to work flexibly, so it’s all about them right!  Here’s a few tips to preparing and presenting a killer business case for flexible work:

  • Have your best practice examples at the ready and be familiar with the benefits of flexible working. Need some? Let us help you.
  • Prepare answers to any potential objections you feel may arise, such as how you will remain contactable, how you will manage your workload, etc.
  • Utilise your performance to your advantage (if it has been good!), for example, state that: ‘I have already proven that I achieve more than what is required of me, and I know I can continue in this vein, regardless of my work location.’ Even if you are returning to work after maternity leave, it is still ok to leverage your past performance – after all, your ability to do your job hasn’t changed, you are simply seeking a more flexible arrangement.
  • Plan a catch up with your manager at a convenient time – you will be far more likely to achieve success if they have the time and energy to consider your proposal.

Have a back-up Plan

If your request to work flexibly is denied, then it is a good idea to have a back-up plan – or two. Firstly, if your request to work flexibly full-time or work part-time is refused, consider asking your organisation whether they will consider a job-share arrangement.  Organisations can only deny your request on business grounds, find out what they are and see if you can work with those.

Secondly, if your organization cannot or will not consider flexible working arrangements, call us. We can help you, your organization with tools and frameworks to manage flexibility.  FlexConnect specialses in “Equipping Organizations, Managers and Employees for Flexibility”


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