Creating a Culture of Flexibility in the Workplace
Like many aspects of our lives, a lot has changed in the way we work since the pandemic.
According to a Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) study from 2020, working from home and spending more time with family and friends were two of the most common aspects of life Australians wanted to see after COVID-19. Two years on and this support of work-life integration is continuing to shape how employers are navigating a new hybrid model of work.
In a more recent report released by our partners at Family Friendly Workplaces and Parents at Work in conjunction with UNICEF, it’s evident that employee expectations are changing. People want to work for organisations who recognise and support their responsibilities outside of work, and accessing flexible work arrangements is key to achieving this.
Almost one in five Australian workers (18%) has considered resigning in the last six months due to lack of flexibility. A further seven in 10 employees would take another job if it offered more flexible hours and more than half (50%) would forgo a portion of their pay in exchange for significant flexibility.
Organisations who embrace this priority of their existing and future workforce will win the war on talent and reap the rewards. An analysis of the 70 organisations who have been through the Family Friendly Workplace certification program (including our featured employers Leidos and Medibank), highlights just how important flexible workplace policies and practices are for employers, employees and their families, and the greater community.
The research is clear around the many and varied ways diverse and inclusive organisations outperform less diverse and inclusive organisations. From increasing potential talent pools for our business to higher engagement of team members and ultimately delivering better bottom line results for shareholders – everybody wins.
Ali Mcpheat | Vice President, Human Resources, Australia at Leidos
So how do employers create a culture of flexibility in this evolving new world?
Recognise flexibility looks different for everyone
When managing flexible work best practices, it’s important to keep in mind that workplace flexibility means different things to different people. Employers need to recognise the central role of the employee voice for the successful design, implementation and evaluation of family friendly workplace policies and practices that work for everyone. Employee network groups, forums and focus groups can be utilised to better understand the work-life tension challenges employees of all ages face in the organisation.
Adapting to flexible work best practices requires a mindset focussed on outcomes rather than processes. Giving employees greater control over how they work can ultimately lead to greater productivity.
Personal accountability plays a vital role in shaping best practices for flexible workplaces. Employees should understand they will be held accountable for the results of their work and productivity, even if they are working from home. Measuring outcomes and transparently communicating those results can establish benchmarks to keep employees inspired, engaged, and accountable.
Hire the right people
Promote your flexible work arrangements to attract and retain talent who support this as a cultural norm, and more importantly, ensure your leadership team are leading by example.
Commit to policies and practices
The National Work + Family Standards inform employers of the minimum and best practice policies and practices they should invest in to foster a family friendly workplace culture. A National recognition framework allows employers to be benchmarked against the Standards and work towards being certified as a Family Inclusive Workplace. The process is designed to foster a sustainable workplace culture where employees effectively manage work and family life commitments.
It is evident that the pandemic has created widespread support for flexible working, amongst employees and employers alike. As organisations explore options for returning to the office, now is a crucial time to consider how flexible work can continue in a way that attracts and retains talent, promotes equality and wellbeing for all staff.
To read the full report or to find out more about the Standards, recognition framework and certification process of becoming a Family Friendly Workplace, visit www.familyfriendlyworkplaces.com