A Flexible Workplace

Shawnee Love   •  
June 17, 2017

For the 4th blog in our series on building employee mental health, we are talking about flexibility.  Flexibility at work is something all employees want no matter what gender or generation.  And giving employees what they want has two great consequences:

  1. When employees get something they badly want, just knowing they have it can ease their minds and in so doing help build resiliency.  Resilient employees are more productive in the long run for employers and thus desirable.
  2. Being flexible in ways which enable employees to deal with what life throws at them without having their job negatively impacted helps employees have a productive career while taking care of personal business.  And as anyone who has ever had a personal issue follow them to work knows, having personal freedom to resolve the situation enables employees to work harder when they are free.

When we think of the types of flexibility you can build into your workplace, we often think of flexible schedules.  For example:

  • Re-arrangeable schedules: Arriving later and leaving later or arriving and leaving earlier is one method, but I also see employers allowing employees to rearrange their days or workloads to fit their personal responsibilities, so split shifts are more common (employees have to leave in the middle of the day to run a child from school to a program), as are shorter weeks with longer days,
  • Part time/ Shared Jobs: This is when employers are willing to allow two people to have flexibility to chose when and how they work as long as the job gets done.
  • Gradual retirement: Instead of having someone transition out on a specific date, you can keep them in the workforce longer by allowing the work schedule and work load to transition more slowly.

Other ways employers can offer flexibility at work include:Workplace flexibility concept on the gearwheels

  • Telecommuting:  The ability to work from home when needed
  • Benefits:  Offering a benefits plan which includes the basics plus a menu of options rather than one-size-fits-all allows employees to choose which fit their personal situation the best.
  • Banked or Lieu Time: Allowing employees to work a bit extra here and there in order to build up time for a rainy (or sick) day gives the ability to take a needed day off without a short pay cheque. That can be a lifesaver in a tight month.
  • Make Up Opportunities:  Rather than docking pay, employers can let employees “catch up” on the missing hours at another time (e.g., if they were sick or had to leave early, come in earlier tomorrow).
  • Training/ retraining: This is a great way to keep things fresh and interesting not to mention give employees the chance to do different work when necessary.  It also allows them to choose what they are up for in a particular day and in so doing, accomplish work that fits their state of mind.  It doesn’t work for every situation, but it works great in very busy environments where there’s too much to do and never enough time.
  • Management: The ability of a manager to flex in accordance with each employee’s personality and style is an invaluable example of flexibility at work.  Everyone wants to be treated as if they matter, and managers who can align their efforts with what each employee needs and wants are bound to create an environment which support employees

The type of flexibility needed can vary, but the consequence of receiving flexibility is that employees can meet their personal and work commitments.  Being able to succeed builds confidence and resiliency and in doing so creates wellness.

So… what type(s) of flexibility do you offer?