Flexible Work Practices

Flexibility: Variances in time, location or method of work.

Objectives

  • To define a variety of flexible work options appropriate for the industry
  • To provide guidelines for approaches to flexible work options

Outcomes

  • Retaining mature workers by allowing flexible work options which enable them to work longer but work differently
  • Improving productivity by improving the working experience of individuals and creating efficiencies.

Steps to take

  1. Complete the eMasterClass on flexible work practices
  2. Ensure that your organisation has appropriate policies for flexible work practices.
  3. Conduct a mature workers’ focus group on flexibility around the following questions.
    • Thinking about your work practices, if your role was more ‘flexible’ what would that mean to you ie what would change?
    • What are the current barriers to flexibility?
    • What would help break through those barriers?
    • If you could work more flexibly, would you work for longer?

Examples may include:

    • Flexible contracts for peak periods e.g. where formerly retired staff are invited back to assist with busy periods such as financial year end.
    • Telecommuting where employees do not need to be physically located in the office and can work remotely from home or regional satellite offices.
    • Job sharing where two people are assigned to share a single role and work on different days of the week.
    • Flexible shifts where employees might start their day later or earlier to allow them to cater for personal needs such as child or elder care responsibilities.
    • Part time and contract roles to allow people to be semi-retired and pursue other interests at the same time such as study or leisure activities.
    • Travel or sabbatical leave where someone in the retirement zone is able to take a year off to have their “retirement holiday” and then return in a reduced capacity to the organisation.
    • Job redesign where the tasks are reallocated to take best advantage of the skill sets of the mature employee.
    • Mentoring and training roles for “retired” staff.
    • Compressed working weeks where a person can perform the hours of a full time role over a shorter number of days.

Use the outcomes of the focus group to build your business case and implementation plan for flexible work practices.

  1. Conduct a managers’ focus group on flexibility around the following questions.
    • When you think about flexible work practices, what words come to mind?
    • Thinking about your work practices, if your role was more ‘flexible’ what would that mean to you ie what would change?
    • What are the current barriers to flexibility?
    • What would help break through those barriers?
  2. Use the Flexible Conversation Worksheet designed for the aged care industry (attached below) as a basis for mature workers to think about their own role and how they might discuss flexibility with their manager.

The following questions are often raised when evaluating a flexible work proposal:

  • Can I offer a trial-run of the proposed arrangement to see how it works?Yes. If the arrangement is new and has not been applied before in your business, it makes good sense to trial it and learn from the experience. These trial periods often range between three to six months. Make sure you agree on clear and practical performance measures to properly assess the success of the trial.
  • If I provide flexibility for one employee, won’t all of my staff want to work flexibly as well?No, a flexible work arrangement won’t suit everyone. Remember, working flexibly requires the employee to forfeit a full time salary. Assess each request on a case-by-case basis and apply a standard decision making process. You need to ensure that business outcomes are maintained, and that your staff are content and productive.

The following questions are often raised when evaluating a flexible work proposal:

  • How long do I need to be employed before I can request a flexible work arrangement?Your ability to request a flexible work arrangement will vary depending upon your terms and conditions of employment and your employer’s flexible work policies. You should seek advice on your eligibility to work flexibly from your manager or human resources department.
  • Can I ask for a trial-run of a flexible work arrangement to see how it works?Yes. If the arrangement is new and has not been applied before in your business, it makes good sense to trial it and learn from the experiences. These trial periods often range between three to six months. Make sure you agree on clear and practical performance measures to properly assess the success of the trial.

These questions come from the Flexible Work Proposal Toolkit. For further information or to find out about purchasing the full Flexible Work Proposal Toolkit, please email sagecentre@sageco.com.au

  1. Read the case studies and research and resources available in this toolkit.
  2. Remember any changes require the buy-in of executive, management and most importantly, staff. It seems an obvious step but is so often neglected.

Attachments

 Flexible Conversation Worksheet Aged Care