Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Creating a Culture of Flexibility in the Workplace

Advice for employees interested in working to foster a culture of flexibility in your own workplace is published on Work It, Mom!

Several organizations exist whose solution to the rigidity of workplace productivity standards is legislation that would include employers to provide paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, paid sick leave, increased vacation leave, and limits placed on overtime hours. Such requirements could be harmful to some employers who are already able to offer great flexibility. Additionally, these requirements are increasingly difficult for employers to offer part-time employees.

The solution we advocate is in itself one of flexibility. The goal is to find the right schedule, the right balance, and the right fit for each individual. Not every employee functions well as a teleworker. Not every position lends itself well to flex hours. But a flexible workplace culture works for everyone.

We advocate this culture of flexibility – an environment where the needs of an employee and the employer can be mutually met. The process is simple, resulting in a changed workplace culture, happier, more productive employees, and a greater sense of balance for all involved.

First, initiate open and meaningful communication with all levels of employees. Start with an assessment of the needs and priorities of the workforce including issues of work and life, health, family, and satisfaction with current scheduling options. This can be done as one-on-one meetings, a lunch and learn discussion group, or using a company-wide questionnaire. Maintain this level of communication to monitor progress and evaluate success.

Next, evaluate the information received and outline changes to be made. Remember, the information received represents the diversity of needs of many employees. Determine what changes align with your own values and the mission of the business. Further, consider what changes are worthwhile to make in order to please a maximum number of employees. Create a menu of flexible options and benefits your business will be able to implement.

Then, with upper management, align your business strategy to reflect the newly adopted culture. This includes marketing the changes made and building a structure that will sustain these changes. Start by rewriting the company mission statement to reflect the value placed on flexibility. Rework the employee handbook to include procedures for employees wishing to take advantage of newly instated benefits and the assessment and review processes eliminating antiquated measures of productivity. Update job postings to include information about flexible scheduling options and benefits. A reputation as a flexible and family friendly employer is a powerful marketing tool.

Finally, maintain the standards set forth by your new vision. The changes made will need to be dynamic, as each employee and each position has differing needs. Establish a mentor program that will serve to maintain the open lines of communication and allow for constant reappraisal of needs.

Remember, a culture of flexibility in itself necessitates flexibility. Remain open to new suggestions and you will find the balance that works best for employees and the company.

For additional information or assistance instituting a process for change at your company, please contact us at

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Flexible Workforce Solutions
State College, PA