In recent years, technological advances have provided some workers with more workplace flexibility. Advances in information and communication technology allow people to reach their colleagues and clients by phone, email, or text from nearly anywhere, at all hours of the day. The development and expansion of secure computer networks, cloud computing, and wireless connections provide additional flexibility in where and when work can be done.

Taking advantage of these changes, many employers have implemented policies that allow their employees to work from home or other remote locations beyond their traditional workplaces, at least occasionally.  This is critical and very attractive program in the efforts to attract and hire top talent in our current labor market and to be able to fill our open jobs.

Research has shown us that employees in most occupations can be productive and the work can be performed in a variety of locations.  Workers in these occupations accounted for 41% of the workforce.  Workers in other occupations, such as builders, servers, cleaners, and assembly-line workers, often are required to work at a specific location.

Work-life balance with flexible schedules are on candidates’ mind and fast becoming a subject that organizations continue to ignore when they try to attract and hire candidates to fill open and difficult to fill jobs.

How to implement change…Talent Acquisition and HR professionals need to develop a basic understanding of the subject ready for the day when senior managers ask them to deliver a briefing on work-life balance or to draw up a work-life balance policy.

Here are 10 tips to help both TA and HR professionals in organizations of all sizes develop an awareness of the key issues and a helpful guide to implementing flexible work schedules.

1. Understand why everyone is suddenly interested in this…
Employers are beginning to recognize that work-life balance strategies can help them attract new candidates, manage employees better, and improve performance. Organizations that take into account workers’ commitments outside work when organizing shifts and defining attendance patterns can reap business benefits as well as enhancing employee motivation, reducing workplace stress, and increasing employee retention. 
Employees are becoming more likely to expect to be able to fit leisure and social interests and other non-work commitments into their lives as well as their jobs. They are less willing to sacrifice their private lives and to be forced to choose between work and life outside work.

2. Be clear about what you want…
Are you are looking at work-life balance primarily from the point of view of individuals or from the point of view of an employer? It makes a big difference.

Individual perspectives of work-life balance are rooted in personal effectiveness and personal development. The key issues are establishing and maintaining the boundaries between work and life. Employers are more interested in the work-life balance agenda as a business-improvement tool and are looking for evidence of how it can enhance productivity.

3. Identify the main work-life balance practices…
In business, the most common work-life balance practices are flexible-working strategies including telecommuting, and job sharing. Strategies to help people manage their commitments outside their working lives while holding on to their jobs are also important.

4. Read all about it…
There are quite a few websites dedicated to facilitating and developing programs for flexible work hours. (The Department of Labor is a great resource)

5. Know the hot issues…

Different issues are more - or less – important to different people. Excessive working hours and long commutes are high on most people’s list because employees become less effective the longer they work. If they continue to work excessive hours for a long period stress levels tend to increase and they are more likely to become less productive. Almost every work-life balance initiative will, in one way or another, address this issue.

6. Start a dialogue with managers in your organization…

Get them to think carefully about what work-life balance means – or could mean - in your organization. If necessary use senior management meetings to establish a common understanding of the subject among the top team.

7. Get people thinking about your policy…

Your policy will be unique to your organization. It must communicate to everyone what work-life balance means for you, which work-life balance arrangements you intend to support, what you intend to do about issues such as flexible working hours and how people can access your work-life balance offering.

8. Research work-life balance standards and benchmarks…

Research what other companies and your competitors are doing. This can help you to establish goals for your work-life balance strategy. The Improving Working Programs currently used by a range of public-sector and private-sector organizations, are already available for research and comparison.

9.  Make it clear that the new policy is for everyone…

All your employees must believe that work-life balance is for everyone in your organization. Everyone needs to take the time to establish the right work-life balance for them. 

10. Market the new program externally…

Employers who are willing to acknowledge the lives their employees lead outside work, and seek to accommodate those lives within the necessary constraints of their need to do business are finding they can fish in a wider pool for labor, as well as, becoming a more attractive potential employer to the candidate.

The benefits of flexible working for employees are pretty obvious. They maintain control over their time off and can find a work-life balance that allows them to maintain their priorities outside of the job while successfully getting work done. They can also schedule their work for times at which they may accomplish more, like quieter hours.

Despite popular belief, flexible working benefits aren’t saved just for employees. A business can recruit and hold on to valued, skilled staff that may have priorities of flexibility and a work-life balance, rather than just the job salary. This is certainly a growing trend, and many people are choosing or switching jobs based on these new values. By incorporating flexibility in the workplace, businesses have access to a wider talent pool because they aren’t limiting themselves and are not bound by geographic location for hiring – they can access talent anywhere in the world if they choose.

When employees have the freedom to manage their work-life balance, they’ll be more focused when they are on the job, because they, themselves, have dedicated that as their time to complete work. It’s been found many times over that remote workers are more productive than traditional office employees, especially because they are loyal, dedicated and appreciative of the flexibility. A flexible schedule also reduces absences when people have conflicts like appointments, because they can simply shift their hours around, rather than entirely missing those hours.

By the way, I will be working remotely tomorrow.


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