Flex it at work!

A government survey shows 28% of companies here had some form of formal flexible work arrangements last year – a rise from 21% in 2004. This could, in part, be attributed to the availability of the Government’s Work-Life Works! (WoW!) Fund which helps companies to defray the cost of implementing work-life practices.

Studies show that people are prepared to leave their current jobs for roles that offer better work-life balance, even at reduced pay. Increasingly, people want better control over how they manage their time, where and how they work. Surely, flexibility can be a talent retention tool to achieve greater commitment, engagement and productivity gains.

So, can work-life practices ever achieve win-win outcomes?

The business case for flexibility
The rationale for implementing flexibility must be understood. It can be implemented in various degrees, not necessarily organisational-wide. In a downturn, flexibility can actually help manage costs. Companies can also hire contract or part-time workforce, as well as redeploy resources to ease bottlenecks. At other times, flexibility is a talent attraction and retention, as well as well-being strategy that also boosts employer branding.

Trust, respect and accountability
Successful implementation is built on a culture of mutual trust, respect and open-door policy with shared interests, attitudes, concerns and performance gaps addressed objectively. Role models manage expectations effectively, setting the tone for a trusting work environment with emphasis on accountability and results. Beneficiaries of work-life and flexibility options need to honour their commitments and not compromise business standards and work performance.

Managing performance
Flexible work options should not cause additional performance, operational and/or team issues. In fact, service hours can be extended with introduction of staggered work hours or flexi-hours options. Those on flexibility programs are to remain contactable during core hours with some forms of established routine for a little check-and-balance within the flexibility.

Giving Flexibility a Chance
Flexibility is best driven by leadership team commitment and knowledge, backed by positive experience and impact at business, customer service and personal levels. It is cultivated by a culture of trust and sensitivity to employee needs whilst firm on performance expectations and deliverables. It is strengthened by open and clear communication that minimise confusion and scepticism. It is proven successful by vigilant champions and success stories of lives and organisations impacted.

By HRM Asia
Mar 02, 2010


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