More and more people seek flexible working as a key element of their working lives.
Putting flexible working at the heart of your employee value proposition is one of the most effective ways to strengthen talent recruitment and retention in organisations. Gartner’s recent research found that organisations can produce a 40% increase in high performers within their workforce by delivering a “radical flexibility” that supports employee autonomy by “by giving them flexibility over where, when, how much, how and with whom they work”. Similarly a recent article by Forbes found that flexibility was sought by 92% of millennials, 80% of women and 52% of men and that 30% of UK employees would prefer more flexibility to a pay rise. Flexible working is sought after and it impacts on organisational performance. But as Forbes also find: “Fewer than 10% of UK advertised jobs currently offer flexibility. The gap between supply and demand is huge.”
So why might that be?
A fascinating interview with Alexandra Kalev, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University reveals some valuable insights:
Firstly, not many organisations do much to measure the costs and benefits of the work/life supports they put in place to support flexibility. We are huge advocates that mental fitness should be measured and aligned with other organisational KPIs as a means of demonstrating the powerful relationship between wellbeing and performance. Measurement = change. If you’re not measuring the impact of employee benefits then that can be a good place to start to begin the conversation about flexibility.
Secondly organisations are often used to delivering employee policies at an organisation wide level. In fact flexibility can impact very differently and have different meanings and significance across different teams or types of role within the organisation. The ideal way to deliver an effective EVP is at an individualised or personal level and based on a deep understanding of your employees. Starting the conversation at team level can start to reveal the different requirements, challenges and opportunities for flexibility across different organisational functions.
Thirdly are issues of trust, or perhaps issues we might call ‘legacy perception’. Kalev talks about the legacy power of the myth that the ‘ideal worker’ is the one who is visible. This is perhaps also what underlies the reluctance of many older CEOs to loudly support working from home. Having developed their own careers in an era of presentee-ism they continue to see this as a measure of productivity, depite any actual evidence that correlates the two variables.
And finally there are issues of management and implementation. The worry that by implementing flexibility workers will somehow “take advantage” of it and create new and unexpected management challenges.
We think this is actually one of the most powerful entry points to engaging with flexibility. Using transformational coaching at scale across the organisation to create a ‘culture of leadership’ that extends way beyond a small, core central leadership team helps overcome implementation barriers by simultaneously creating more confidence in leading the way with flexibility whilst creating a culture of trust that assumes that other members of this leadership culture will be using flexibility for the benefit of the organisation as well as themselves.
Increasing flexibility is one of the most transformative acts an organisation can deliver. Unlocking its power starts with personal transformation and the creation of a culture of leadership. Being in the vanguard of flexible working offers the potential to be in the vanguard of recruiting and retaining the best talent and ensuring they can operate as their most productive selves. Who’s leading the conversation about flexibility in your organisation?
Want to take this further?
Do you want to gain insight into personal transformation? Do you want to learn how your own Mental Fitness can be the framework for understanding how you can develop greater self-awareness and grow in your own capability and resilience?
Or, if you play a role in your organisation’s development and that of those who work with you and their Mental Fitness, we’d love to talk.
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