Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Flexibility - Common objections and why it is good for business

Are companies making enough effort to offer flexible arrangements?
Across the board, no. However, the national skills shortage is starting to hurt employers and this is creating change. Businesses tend to fall under one of the four following types:
1.A business who pretends that there is no skills shortage.
2.A business that has a comprehensive flexible workplace policy but is not good at communicating it to their employees.
3.A business that wants to offer more flexible working arrangements but doesn't know where to start.
4.A business who is experiencing both business and employee benefits from successfully implementing flexible workplace policies. Some of these businesses include Westpac, St George, Blackmores, IBM Australia, and Acumen Alliance.

What are the main objections of companies to flexible arrangements?
•Some managers equate work flexibility with 'not getting the job done'. There is a siginificant amount of research and case studies to suggest otherwise.
•Larger companies fear that if they do it for one person, a revolution will follow. Rather, it should be viewed on a case-by-case basis.
•Individual managers block the introduction of flexibility because of their own personal views rather than what is right for company.
•People generally resist change.

Do companies always realise the potential of flexible arrangements?
Yes. Once companies make the change and move to a flexible working environment, the benefits flow from an employee and business perspective. EOWA Awards and the DEWR Work and Family Awards showcase companies around the country that are benefiting from flexible workplace policies. Common advantages include:
• reduced absenteeism and staff turnover
• improved productivity
• staff loyalty
• increased trust and respect
• improved ability to attract skilled and motivated employees

What are some tips for companies who are unsure about how to structure flexible workplace arrangements?
- Understand the demographics of your workforce. Do you know if your staff need flexible work arrangements? How is this impacting on your staff turnover?
- Once you have conducted a needs assessment, you will be able to draft a workplace policy on flexible work practices.
- Learn from other businesses who have successfully implemented workplace flexibility. Network and share ideas.
- Senior level management must openly support flexible work arrangements. Ideally, some senior level managers will be working flexibly to demonstrate executive support.

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