Adding Flexibility to Your Workplace Doesn’t Have to Hurt
Years ago, after returning from maternity leave, a coworker and I asked for a job share arrangement. Since the son I gave birth to is now 18 years old, some things have changed a bit, and some other things, not so much. Back in 1997, we wrote a major proposal that needed approval from the executive leadership team, because we were essentially a test case for this type of “new age” flexible work arrangement. We dared to ask and subsequently got it approved, largely due to the buy-in of our leadership. In proposing this arrangement, we thought that we had a chance for approval, because our company was an advertising and marketing communications company which already had a creative and collaborative culture. Our boss, the HR Director, was supportive and progressive, believing that these types of policies could work for all parties, and she knew our work and trusted us. Most importantly, her boss, the CFO, trusted her managers to make sound decisions for their teams and she signed off on it. Strong leadership is critical to change!
The arrangement consisted of me working the first half of the week and my job share partner working the rest of the week. For the most part, it was a great collaboration. Throughout the week, we would talk to each other, leave copious notes on resumes, in notepads and leave details too long to write on a… (don’t laugh)… dictaphone. Another side benefit was that my colleague gravitated to certain tasks that I ran from, like research, and I loved cold calling people, which she disliked doing. This worked great for us, and I believe our employer truly got two for the price of one. Chalk up a win for us and a win for the company.
Wins for the company with a job share:
Yes, the wins for the employee with a flexible arrangement are obvious, but often it is even more beneficial for the employer. As recruiters, our flexible arrangement spoke volumes to potential recruits about the type of company that they were considering joining. Our company was viewed as progressive, and that increased overall employee engagement, which wasn’t even a concept back then. Everyone felt great that their company was so cutting edge.
If your company is having trouble attracting new talent or keeping your best people, consider adding some flexible work options. The cost of turnover with recruiting, training, and lost productivity is estimated at anywhere from 6-9 months salary on average. In today’s competitive environment, flexibility often trumps a lucrative compensation package. At Purple Ink, we work virtually and love it!
How can you introduce flexible scheduling alternatives that don’t hurt?
Try one of these flexible scheduling options:
So far, it’s pretty painless and you are virtually there. In fact, consider a virtual office. Offering a work from home option, even as little as one day a week, can drive engagement and job satisfaction up. If these options don’t seem feasible, start small with tweaking the dress code. It’s amazing what business casual dress or a “jeans on Friday” policy can do to lift morale and give employees a feeling of flexibility.
Are you still skeptical because you’re worried about the impacts on customers, team building, collaboration and how to manage it?
Communication and trust are essential to the ultimate success of these programs. If you are doing employee engagement surveys or providing opportunities for ongoing feedback, you may already see a desire for more flexibility. If you don’t, are you asking the right questions?
Remember, it’s almost 2016 and we have email, video conferencing, texting, shared documents and laptops. This is doable and can be profitable.
Think about ways that your company can bend the rules, stretch the boundaries, and flex your staffing model to pull in a more productive and engaged workforce.