So, you’ve made the decision to launch a flexibility program. Congratulations!
You are not alone. Enterprise flexibility has reached a tipping point among employers of all sizes.
“87% of HR leaders believe that workplace flexibility programs lead to employee satisfaction, while nearly 7 out of 10 leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruiting tool.”
The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study
After you’ve invested in your plan, policies, and procedures, and you’ve got the budget and the “GO” sign, what’s your plan for introducing it to the enterprise? How will you gain support for the program? How will you get it to become the new normal?
To maximize your program potential, consider these four program steps for success:
1. Socialize the program with managers first:
Sequencing the announcement is critical. Since managers will be responsible for selecting and managing flex participants — and ultimately for program results — they’ll need to be the first to know how it works. Each manager will find considerable value in seeing the business case for flexibility, the details of the policy, the program strategy, objectives, and how to select participants. Then, it’s good practice to reinforce the process, neutralize misconceptions, and get all the issues on the table by gathering managers in small groups. Every manager ought to be equipped with the essential knowledge, tools, and confidence before they receive the first flex application.
2. Announce the program and invite team members to apply:
There won’t likely be a shortage of employees interested in flexibility. However, it must be made clear from the beginning that program participation is not automatic. Early messaging could provide general parameters and criteria for participation. Then, provide all those who wish to participate with a program overview, guidelines, a readiness assessment, and tips on discussing flex with their manager and submitting an application.
“What are the biggest concerns for employers who establish flexibility programs?
• Potential for the employee to abuse the system: 42%
• Flexibility not being part of their culture: 40%
• Concerns about employee fairness: 34%
The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study
3. Celebrate post-launch success stories:
After launching any organizational change process, it’s easy for bad news to dominate discussions among the ranks, magnifying isolated issues and complaints. You can head this off early by identifying and publicizing examples of flex success – each work group is bound to have two or three. Humanizing the value and benefits of flexibility will shift the conversation and help others recognize how flex might work for them.
4. Measure program results and make adjustments:
To determine whether the program is a success, you will need some evidence. The obvious place to begin is to make a plan to measure the changes in the areas you had intended flexibility to affect. Take a baseline survey before launch, then after the first six months or so, repeat the survey to compare employee stress, productivity, engagement, customer focus, and other criteria with pre-launch baseline data. Over time, changes in wellness, real estate, disaster planning preparedness, sustainability, and other strategic elements will prove this was a good business decision.
There’s no doubt that workplace flexibility can be disruptive.
With proper planning and and a thoughtful strategy, you have much more control over the type of disruption your program will generate. With a deliberate plan and effective execution, workplace flexibility can quickly become accepted and adopted as a new normal way to work faster than you think, generating plenty of positive, measurable benefits.
We expect someday you’ll look back and be glad you used these four steps to drive flexibility as the new enterprise norm. We hope you’re reach out and let us know!
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