Highlights from the Ecosystem

Flexible workplace policies have been on corporate agendas for decades, with numerous organizations implementing structures to help employees strike a healthy work / life balance. However this topic has gained even more traction, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with schools being closed, leaving working parents responsible of a growing workload and a full-time job at home.

Accordingly, in a webinar delivered to a hundred business owners and HR managers, the IFC has outlined 5 simple steps to introduce a flexible work policy. These steps include:

  1. Businesses need to understand the benefits, that come with flexible work policies
  2. Then consider which flexible work arrangements are most suited for the business, and what can your organization offer
  3. To outline these steps, management and employee concerns need to be uncovered and factored into the plan
  4. Then, businesses can design a flexible work program and policies to meet the needs of both the company and the employees
  5. Of course, the policies will then need to be heavily communicated within the organization, for each employee to know their rights, while still committing to their work requirements

What are the benefits of flexible workplace policies?

By understanding the numerous benefits of flexible work policies, the business case surfaces. Benefits can include increased employee recruitment and retention levels, in addition to enhancing employee morale and loyalty. Employees who feel well taken care of by their employers, will more likely give back in terms of time and quality.

Other benefits to flexible policies, as outlined by the IFC, include reduced absenteeism, and company also record a boost in productivity levels amongst their teams when a proper work / life balance is achieved.

As with the norm of remote working brought on by the pandemic, the environment also reaps the rewards. Just think of the contribution to environmental sustainability, with reduced travel, office energy costs and paperwork. The result is a decreased environmental footprint (which you can even report on in your CSR efforts).

Lastly, with proper flexible work policies, business continuity is ensured, especially during natural disasters or pandemics, as the system to work remotely has already been established.

Factor in the concerns

Every employee’s situation is unique, but commonalities may be derived to design more flexible work policies. Of course, this also depends on the nature of the business, as strategies may differ for corporations versus factories.

Businesses should speak to their managers and team members to understand what really matters to them. Companies should factor in the different time zones and how that impacts its global teams. In addition, challenging work environments, that have become more strenuous due to school closures need to be addressed. And lastly, businesses need to instill a culture of trust, to ensure that team members deliver and are productive when they commit to be.

Some of the best practices in flexible working arraignments include:

  • Altering working hours – by changing the start and finish time
  • Changing the location of the workplace and providing options (that may be closer to home)
  • Offering flexible working hours
  • Having policies in place for part-time employees
  • Introducing split shifts or allowing team members to swap shifts
  • Having a compressed work week – employees may give more in less time
  • Devising a job sharing plan to foster more of a team spirit internally

After factoring in the benefits and concerns, design your flexible work policy

Ensure your flexible workplace policies factor in:

  • The founding principles, the purpose and the definitions of the policy itself. Why is your business offering it? And what are the rewards for team members?
  • Outline eligibility and exclusion criteria clearly
  • Create a simplified work for employees to apply
  • Put into practice an employee appeal process
  • Managers need a set of rules and processes to either approve or reject a request
  • And lastly, for the policies to work and business activity to not be impacted, monitoring and evaluation tools are required

How to communicate flexible work policies

Companies need to actively communicate the policies and indicate who is eligible, to avoid abuses of the system. By creating a synergy of trust and care between the business and its teams, companies may become an employer of choice.

Use different and multiple channels to communicate the policies, such as emails, newsletters, team meetings the intranet, workshops and so on. It is important to repeat the messages in more than one form, as some employees may be more receptive to one medium over another.

Businesses can also identity an opinion leader within the organization who has the ability to relay information in an effective manner and influence others

And lastly, ensure that any concerns or questions are addressed, and added to the FAQs.

The level of flexibility of your workplace policies can determine employee and top talent retention and contribute to your business’ long-term success. Plan wisely.

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