I know I have blogged about this before, but as we are coming up to the time of the year with all the stresses of Christmas, family and work commitments, I thought it would be good to revisit this important topic. Added to this, it’s the time of year when the dreaded annual performance and salary reviews are doing the rounds for a lot of people and I wanted to add some pointers on how to approach salary negotiations too (see negotiating a salary increase).
Firstly work-life balance:
The concept of work life balance is nothing new and employers are aware of what this means on the whole. Indeed, many make great strides to accommodate their employees with flexible and agile working policies etc. The reality is that from an employer’s perspective it can be difficult to implement in some cases. After all, work life balance is subjective and personal to each individual. For some being at work brings joy and harmony along with the added benefit of community and belonging and therefore life is in balance. For others though, and in my experience, mainly mums and carers, they feel that a work life balance is a dream.
There are companies who value the hours employees put in rather than output achieved. Added to this the pressures of being able to be contacted almost any time of the day or night through the use of mobile technology, it’s no wonder stress levels and anxiety are on the increase. As employers, it is incumbent upon us to think about how we are imbedding flexible working practices as a culture.
In April 2014 changes to UK law extended the right to request flexible working beyond parents and carers to all employees. There are a number of things to think about and plan for before you make your request for flexible working. It is your responsibility as an employee to make the best possible case for this and remember you can only make one application in each 12-month period. Therefore, make sure your request is clear and includes the benefits to the business too.
Here are a few guidelines to think about when considering requesting flexible working:
· Plan what you want to say and ask for – sit down and write it out. Trouble shoot everything i.e., what do you want in terms of hours, times, place of work and working patterns
· Include the benefits to the business – suggest you are more likely to be motivated and successful in your work if you feel valued and flexible working is part of this. You are more likely to give work your full attention when you are there and you will be more inclined to commit to the company and add value long term etc.
· Consider the impact on your colleagues too and how this can be managed. Maybe suggest an initial trial period if you think you may need to persuade your colleagues/manager.
· Arrange a face to face meeting with your boss and let him/her know exactly what you want to discuss. Be open and frank and willing to listen to the other side and compromise if necessary.
As an employer, here are a list of considerations:
· Discuss openly what your ideas of flexible working practices mean
· Always meet with your employees if they request a meeting to discuss flexible working
· Make any decisions on business-related factors not personal bias and let your employees know your decision as soon as possible and in writing
· Always give your employees the opportunity to appeal against any decision should you refuse their request for flexible working
· Ensure the process is completed as quickly and transparently as possible.
· Do not discriminate
Accommodating flexible working will bring benefits to all. Employees are more likely to be more motivated and will go the extra mile for an employer who listens to their requests and shows an interest and understanding in their viewpoints. Supporting your employees will increase productivity and motivation and ultimately this is good for business.