Many CEOs and managers are currently faced with having to navigate a post-pandemic office that provides as much flexibility – if not more – than it did during the pandemic itself. Below, we will discuss how CEOs can navigate and provide flexibility in a modern workplace.
Being Flexible: A True Mark of a Modern Leader
Is providing a hybrid work schedule a prerequisite for being labeled as a modern-day leader? Many working parents and companies are beginning to think so. As an employer, you’ll be aware that the pandemic provided numerous challenges when it came to supporting employees – especially working moms.
While many companies offered flexible working arrangements in the form of remote work options or ‘meeting free’ time blocks this year, there is no denying that the needs of these employees have changed forever. Especially where child care needs are concerned.
If your company wants to remain competitive when hiring great talent and wants to continue to satisfy the needs of existing employees, then you’ll need to adopt a company culture that is built around flexibility. Doing so will truly set you apart as being a modern and successful workplace.
How to Navigate The Flexibility Request: Ways Employers Can Stay Open to Flexible Work Arrangements
The words of the day for many employees are flexible working arrangements. As a manager, having a working parent approach you and request flexible work schedules so they can also prioritize caregiving responsibilities may cause you to panic.
Before you contemplate how this will impact from a financial perspective, you need to be open to the opportunities it will provide for employee satisfaction and morale levels. According to Kevin Delaney, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of Charter, “colleagues want to work with people who are happy and if you’re not addressing their needs, you are the gear in the clog that is holding them back.” If your employees are dissatisfied with the balance between their professional and personal lives, this can impact team morale which can result in employee turnover.
An increase in employee satisfaction will undoubtedly improve productivity levels and make your company more attractive to potential talent in the labor market. As a result of the ‘she-cession’, there is a high-quality pool of talented women that are looking to return to work. However, these women are only open to working for companies that provide sufficient childcare policies and flexible work schedules.
So, what can you do as an employer when a working parent requests more flexibility in the company? Here are our top recommendations for staying open to the idea of flexible working arrangements:
Acknowledge The Role of Working Parents
Firstly, it is important – regardless of the size or nature of your business – that you take a step back and acknowledge the role that working parents have been doing since the beginning of the pandemic.
These employees were placed in a very tough situation of having to be both an employee and child care provider while working remotely. For many, this led to increased levels of stress and burnout. It even attributed to a large percentage of working moms scaling back their hours or stepping off the career ladder entirely.
Many companies changed their policies around flexi-time during 2020 to allow parents and other caregivers to juggle all of their responsibilities. However, that isn’t to say that a return to the office will mark an end to this need for flexibility.
Agree to a Trial Period
Whether or not you made changes to flexibility arrangements during the pandemic, agree to run a trial period with your employee and measure the results. This will ensure that your employee feels like their needs are being heard while also allowing you to see what kind of a difference flexible working arrangements could make in your organization.
You must sit down with the employee in question and agree on how you will measure the success of this trial period. By running a trial period, you’ll be able to show employees that you are willing to be open to their needs. If it proves to work successfully and the working parent can continue to carry out their core job tasks while receiving a better work-life balance, it’s a win-win situation.
Reflect on Existing Benefits and Internal Processes
If a working parent comes forward with a flexibility request, it may signify that other caregivers in the organization are having similar difficulties.
Generally, if that is the case, this is a great opportunity for you as an employer to reflect on where there may be any gaps in your company’s benefits program or internal processes. Ask yourself whether or not your internal communication procedures can be updated? Or whether your existing family leave policies adequately help working parents ramp up their work hours after returning from parental leave?
Many companies decided to work asynchronously during the pandemic to make sure that working parents felt fully supported. Perhaps adopting this as part of a hybrid-work model would be of benefit to your employees?
Strategize a Flexibility Plan That is 100% Accessible
Lastly, any flexibility plan that you consider adopting as part of your organization should be 100% accessible to all employees. After all, flexible working arrangements will not just benefit working parents – many other employees will experience a better work-life balance as a result of flexibility opportunities.
Sizeable companies such as Starbucks have paved the way for ensuring that all employees receive universal benefits. While not every business will be able to provide the same level of flexibility as other industries (i.e. the tech industry that can work 100% remotely), there are other forms of flexibility that you can provide such as a four-day workweek.
Implementing flexible working arrangements in your company doesn’t have to come at a huge cost. You may find that not providing flexibility will come as an even greater expense when you’re no longer able to retain talented employees.
The Case For Flexibility: How It Has Benefited Other Companies Around The World
The idea of flexibility is no longer a novelty. Many companies have successfully adopted flexible working arrangements in various forms with varying degrees of success. In the case of a company called BELAY, its CEO believes that providing “job flexibility” allowed her employees to have more control over their work schedules while also improving mental health.
In a Forbes interview, BELAY CEO Shannon Miles said “When we are directing our time toward what we want, what’s most beneficial for ourselves overall, our mental, emotional and even physical well-being is improved.” When employees have more flexibility to structure their daily schedules, this will inevitably improve their overall satisfaction levels.
Similarly, in the case of Elvis, an agency in London, they believe that moving to flexible working hours in early 2020 is attributed to improved levels of productivity, happiness, and loyalty. While talking with Adweek, CEO Tanya Brookfield notes that flexible working arrangements have changed her team’s perception of what makes them tick as a company and on the office itself. “The office is no longer the place to go to sit on calls; it’s a place to actively meet and collaborate,” explains Brookfield.
Other firms also share the same thoughts with many agreeing with the viewpoints of Miles and Brookfield. Flexible working arrangements increase productivity as commuting is no longer needed. It also allows businesses to improve communication between teams and provides an opportunity for more women to partake in leadership roles.
Are you a smaller business? This doesn’t just apply to those big, fortune 500 companies. Even the smallest of startups can experience success by offering flexible benefits to their employees – especially their working parents.
Vivvi: Supporting Employers in Creating Hybrid Work Arrangements For Employees
Vivvi partners with employers of all sizes across the United States to provide high-quality and affordable employer-sponsored child care to working parents.
Our early learning child care solution is the perfect addition to any benefits program. It is designed to support your employees where they are – whether that is working remotely or in a hybrid work model. With Vivvi, your working parents can get access to world-class early childhood educators that offer extended hours and year-round schedules. This will allow your employees to experience next-level support as part of flexible working arrangements.
For more information on how Vivvi can support your company, visit our employers’ page today.