With Australia’s ageing population and changing labour market, taking on a flexible approach to work is a critical component of your attraction and retention strategy. In a flexible workplace, employers and employees work together to decide on working arrangements such as hours of work, work location and the way work is carried out.
It means thinking creatively about how working lives can be planned to match individual and business needs.
Recently, one of my clients provided the following commentary on her experience embedding flexibility into the workplace as a retention strategy. This is her story.
Essentially, I began looking at flexibility for my team after being provided with flexibility during and after my three maternity leave periods, allowing me to balance school, kids’ sport and work. This was one of the key drivers to remain where I am.
I see the way in which my managers have allowed me to balance work and family as ‘having my cake and eating it too’. Given the anchor point this has on my retention, I figured it was one strategy I could implement for my team that would create a point of difference. I was a little proactive, implementing changes to create the opportunity before being asked by the team.”
In the past 2 years:
- I’ve moved the team from a paper-based office to a paperless office, and from desktops to laptops. All our ICT programs are web-based, which also means we can get real-time access to any of our information as long as we can access the Internet.
- I have a number of mobile Wi-Fi connections for the team to ‘book’, and those who have regular arrangements have a dedicated mobile Wi-Fi. We also utilise phone technology, which means our team can answer their desk phones via their laptops (don’t ask me how it works, I just know it does!).
- I trialled the work from home option and flexible work times with the team for three months on the basis that anyone in the team could request to work from home or alter their start/finish times. It was proposed on a ‘one in, all in’ basis – i.e. if we could all get it to work, we would explore how far we could extend this opportunity.
The trial brought the team closer together, with everyone proactively identifying the challenges of the flexible arrangements and coming up with solutions. Most importantly, it was clear that everyone in the team was equal, and had an equal right to work from home.
Workplace flexibility is often directed at working mums, but only two thirds of my team are parents. Others in the team have used the new arrangements to be at home to work around contractors, drop pets at the vet or fit in a round of twilight lawn bowls in summer. Whatever the reasons, so far the system has not been abused, the team has taken less sick leave, and they have turned down job offers when approached – instead they tell me what the other job didn’t offer when compared to ours. Many are even more productive from home.
So far then changes have been effective, but we do continue to review and ensure it’s still working well. The team are open and honest about what has been challenging. We’ve been together for around three years now, so there is maturity within the team to provide and receive feedback without taking things personally, which I think has been a key aspect to this working.
Whether it would work with a team of newer team members or in roles that aren’t as defined and workload/productivity easily identified, I’m not so sure. I guess I’ve found what works for the team at the moment and the challenge is trying to stay ahead of our competitors to keep my team together.
This is so encouraging to hear and see in action! Employers who provide flexible working arrangements create an environment where employees can be productive while still being able to meet responsibilities outside of work. This increases trust, retention, workload and output.
Helen is flying solo for this PodCast and had the pleasure of attending the WGEA’s event on Equilibrium Challenge which followed 5 men for 12 months who chose flexibility at work, in different shapes and forms, and for different reasons.
The always delightful Annabel Crabb hosted the conversation, and besides being overwhelmed by her genuineness and charming self, Helen completely fell in love with her shoes! Foxy Lady is all we’ll say! 🙂
(We highly recommend Annabel’s recent Book, “The Wife Drought – Why Men Need Lives, and Women Need Wives” – an eye opening and stunning read on the Australian workplace – it’s amazing).
We’ve whipped up a short PodCast for you on their views, what flex is for them and the conversation that took place around that. It’s encouraging that there is a dialogue around flexibility for men as well as women. Check out their website at www.equilibriumchallenge.com.au. Enjoy!
We are over the moon, excited and delighted to have read Mr Baird’s post.
What more is there to say, we salute you Mike Baird for not only identifying so many issues within your government, highlighting them, and looking to rectify them. At FlexConnect we are all for the dialogue around flexibility and it seems Mr Baird has hit the nail on the head – impressive!
The current status within the NSW Government has been identified as this:
- Mike identifies the pay gap in the NSW government as being 17.9% This is higher than the national average.
- 64% of government sector employees are women.
- 36% of senior leadership roles are filled by women.
- Currently 1-2% of senior leaders in the NSW government work flexibly.
As a result of these findings, check this out:
- 50% for women to fill these leadership roles by 2017.
- 100% of NSW government sector roles will be flexible by default by 2019.
Well done Mike Baird, a great initiative and we salute you!
Kate Jenkins was announced as our new Sex Discrimination Commissioner by our Federal Minister for Women, The Honourable Michaela Cash, MP.
Kate was the lead partner with Herbert Smith Freehills, specialising in equal opportunity practice for ten years, has been the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner since 2013.
Kate was pivotal in championing the Victorian Champions of Change, following her predecessor, Elizabeth Broderick’s lead to encourage and support men actively participating in the fight for gender equality.
Ms Cash released this statement:
“Ms Jenkins has worked closely with a wide range of organisations, including the Victoria police, to address issues of entrenched discrimination and harassment,” they said. “She has also advanced gender equality in all areas of life with a particular focus on diversity in sport, through the Fair Go Sport and Play By the Rule campaigns.
We look forward to Ms Jenkins’ contribution to the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission where she will extend her productive relationships across the Australian government and the broader Australian community, building on the outstanding work of her predecessor.”
We couldn’t agree more. Elizabeth Broderick in this recent role and Gillian Triggs who relieved in this post until a replacement for Ms Broderick was secured, are amazing talented women who are inspirational, professional, intelligent and encompass true class and have achieved amazing success and results in their postings!
We look forward to your journey Kate and wish you every success.
FlexConnect empowers and equips organisations to attract and retain high calibre Flexible Professionals and provides tailored solutions that meet the needs of business, individuals, families and communities.
We provide frameworks, tools, training, coaching, goal setting and accountability to ensure success in setting and achieving Targets for both Organisations and Employees.
- Managers are coached on how to effectively communicate and manage their teams as well as how to identify and overcome important challenges
- FlexConnectors are coached in the art of managing up and down as well as communicating effectively and establishing clear targets and frameworks to ensure delivery on KPIs, and influencing expectations and team