For small business, the idea of introducing flexible working can seem daunting. Creating a better work/life balance for your employees has proven to increase engagement and significantly improve retention.
But how can you make it work for your small business without it having a negative effect on operations, especially if you have a small team or a business that needs to be on-site to service customers?
Here are some examples of how flexibility can benefit your small business and strategies you can introduce to make a flexible workplace a reality.
What is a flexible working arrangements policy?
A flexible working arrangements policy outlines the organisation’s stated intent and practices to provide a work environment that enables employees to optimise their contribution to the employer.
It assists employees to manage their participation in paid work while providing clarity around entitlements and expectations. It benefits both the business and its employees.
Having informal arrangements in place around flexible working can also be an effective way of introducing workplace flexibility to a team quickly and with the minimum amount of paperwork and administrative effort.
Flexibility is also something that employees can request and the National Employment Standards (NES) grant a large proportion of employees the formal right to request flexible working.
How can flexible working be successful in a small business?
You don’t need to look far to find stories about big businesses offering great flexible work perks to entice and engage their employees. Consultancy PwC has had an ‘All Roles Flex’ policy since 2015 and at Westpac, nearly 3 out of 4 employees work flexibly.
The attitude is though that flexible working is great in big companies, it just isn’t workable for small business.
But that hasn’t been our experience at Employment Innovations.
We are a small business with just over 50 employees nationally. Our approach to flexibility is straight forward. We believe that what matters most is the results our people are achieving and the connection and trust they develop with their colleagues. Not the time they spend in the office.
We’ve used technology to support our employees who choose to work remotely or work outside the core business hours. We decided to rethink our own flexible working policy because we were struggling to keep some of our best employees, who were leaving us to work closer to home.
In March 2019 we launched the ‘Work My Way’ policy which offered all employees up to 2 days/week working remotely or staggered working hours to suit family/personal commitments. It has been a huge success and we have put measures in place to ensure everyone is reachable, responsive and productive no matter where they are working at the time.
We use Slack to manage internal communications between teams, Zoom or Google Hangouts for meetings and Bria softphone app so that anyone can answer client calls from their desktop or mobile.
How do I know if things are getting too flexible?
This is one area that we monitored closely. When employees miss out on face-to-face interactions with their colleagues, relationships suffer. The more connected people are to each other, the more creative, engaged and collaborative they feel.
If you are finding that your employees are distancing themselves and aren’t getting enough of those important ‘in-person’ interactions, it may be a sign that you need to adjust your flexible working programs to bring everyone closer together.
Getting the balance right will always be a challenge and what works for one business, may not work for another. If having employees work remotely just isn’t an option, think about other options like staggering work hours, a compressed working schedule or job share.
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management & HR software.
Have a question? Contact one of our HR, Payroll, Migration or Employment Law experts today.