Flexible working is the new, well, way of working.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the need for employers to offer a clear, well-documented policy to attract new talent and keep your workforce performing at their best.
We know that when employees are better able to balance their personal lives alongside their work requirements, they are more productive, more enthused about their jobs, and more likely to go beyond for your business’ success.
Though a common desire among the workforce marketplace, flexible working is still a new space to navigate for small businesses.
Here, we break down the elements of a flexible working policy, how to set it up so it’s easy for you to manage, and how to build your staff’s confidence in this new way of working.
Here’s what the article covers:
What is a flexible working policy?
A flexible working policy is the set of formal guidelines that govern how your workforce will plan and document their work schedules.
You’ll want to keep this highly publicised for everyone in the company to see, perhaps as part of your onboarding process and somewhere easily accessible for reference.
You want to be clear about what the term flexible means for your company. This could mean working from home sometimes or working a non-traditional work shift. Your policy should:
- Layout the available work options
- Detail the steps for selecting and changing a work schedule
- Specify expectations and responsibilities in terms of communicating updates, completing work tasks, and any other considerations that affect what should happen while on company time.
How to write a flexible working policy
Because there are so many ways for your company to interpret flexibility for your workforce, there’s no one-size-fits-all policy.
There are, however, common considerations to capture the general direction your policy should go for your business’ purposes. Here are three of them…
1. Why does your company need a formal policy?
Think about what you want to communicate with your flexible working policy.
Do you want to show that work flexibility is a high priority within the company culture? Do you want to set the precedent of work/life balance for new hires?
Considering this will help set the framework for your policy.
2. What kind of flexibility can you support?
Remote working and flexible working are excellent recruiting and retaining tools, but only if you can provide them as a seamless experience.
If you don’t have the technology and processes in place to support the flexibility you’d like to offer, you’ll need to plan for implementing a solution.
3. How can you collect feedback on your policy?
Whatever your goals are for your flexible working policy, it will be most effective if you include feedback from managers and staff.
As you decide what elements to include in your policy, be sure to factor in the opinions of those who will be impacted.
Cloud software to make flexible working happen
There are a lot of moving parts to flexible working. If your policy includes remote working, you’ll need to be able to get your employees up and running to do their jobs quickly and without hassle.
If your flexible working policy means flexible shifts, you’ll a bird’s eye view of the shift schedule so you can plan for appropriate coverage.
Cloud HR software can do this and more.
Ditch manual processes
Keeping track of everyone’s availability is a headache when using spreadsheets. They’re clunky to manage and prone to manual errors.
Lighten your load with automated data processing built into cloud HR software.
Automated data processing lightens your load by removing manual processes and replacing them with digital workflows, giving you complete visibility of your workforce.
Instead of pouring over sticky notes or emails to track employee absences, your employees can submit requests through a mobile app that’s much easier to manage.
You can also limit the number of shifts employees can request on or off automatically by declining requests after so many are submitted.
With more employees working remotely, the ability to view and change employee information any time, from anywhere is more important than ever.
Employees can manage their own time off on-the-go with mobile-optimised HR solutions.
They can use the same app to complete performance reviews and complete engagement surveys all from one secure, online system of record.
Communication and engagement
Help your people stay connected and informed wherever they are and whenever they work.
In a world of remote and disparate working, there’s a greater need for that sense of belonging and connection at work.
In the absence of face-to-face time, there needs to be even more focus on communication.
Need to make a company announcement?
HR software enables you to communicate effectively through targeted, personalised messages to specific groups of employees or send updates directly to employees’ work mobiles so everyone is informed and engaged.
This also includes allowing employees to submit feedback to you so communication goes both ways – an important factor in employee engagement.
The world of work is always changing. Frequent and continuous feedback gives you regular, up-to-date insights into how your people are doing.
This enables you to constantly improve your processes, and respond to and improve experiences for your staff.
How annoying is it when you complete a survey only to wait two months before you hear anything back?
Continuous feedback and regular engagement surveys allow for a rapid ‘you said, we did’ approach to engagement.
Migrating to cloud software for HR and payroll helps you to better create and manage a flexible working policy and to become a better people leader in general.
As you eliminate manual processes and arm yourself with tools to understand what your staff needs, you have more time to address their roadblocks and help them to thrive at work.
And when you do that, your workforce feels respected and appreciated, and more personally invested in the success of the company.
Your people will become empowered to give the best of their skills and take pride in their contribution to your business.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in February 2021 and has been updated for relevance.
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