Flexible Work Conditions
There are times when staff will have special circumstances that affect their work. To help them, employers can consider a range of flexible work options to support them through these times, such as:
- flexible hours
- job sharing
- purchased leave
- carer's leave
- child care arrangements.
Being flexible with work conditions will:
- attract skilled and motivated staff
- increase trust and respect
- reduce stress levels
- improve staff morale and commitment
- allow you to better match workloads with staffing
- reduce absenteeism and staff turnover
- retain older skilled staff
- create a more diverse workforce.
While flexible work options may seem difficult to implement, they don't have to be expensive or radical. They also need to be feasible for business operations and therefore flexible work options can vary from organisation to organisation.
Advice for Employers
Assess the needs
An employer should consult with staff individually, at staff meetings or by a survey about flexible work options. This is so that they can develop options that best suit the needs of the workers and the organisation.
Employers can also interview staff who are leaving to find out if there are gaps in the current working conditions which could be improved through greater flexibility.
Consider the following range of flexible working conditions, and see how they could fit with your organisation's current practices:
- Flexible hours - Flexible start and finish times, part time work, job sharing, compressed hours
- Flexible leave - Leave in single days, leave without pay, extended or special leave
- Purchased leave – Salary reduction over 52 weeks to give staff more annual leave
- Working from home - For staff who may find it difficult to come into the workplace, such as disabled or injured workers, mature age staff, carers and people living remotely.
Work out the logistics
Consider the logistics of flexible working conditions and how they will affect existing operations, for instance:
- Look at workloads, staff communication, staff meetings, emergency situations and access to training.
- Watch for negative perceptions among staff, particularly among managers and supervisors.
- Check if current awards, agreements or contracts allow for flexible work conditions.
- Amend workplace policies and procedures to allow flexible work conditions.
- Document individual arrangements.
Implement new conditions
- Have a trial period to 'test drive' how the conditions work in practice.
- Consult regularly with staff so issues can be addressed as they arise.
Monitor and evaluate
- Review new arrangements after a period of time.
- See if individual and team goals have been met.
- Ask for confidential feedback from staff.
- Make adjustments if there have been any negative impacts on business or other staff.
- Consider additional training or resources to better support flexible conditions.
- Make sure flexible work arrangements work well.
- Foster a culture where everyone respects the right to work under flexible conditions.
- Offer flexible work conditions fairly, giving all staff equal access.