The ‘trick’ employers are missing to create flexible workplaces

By Andrew Hobbs on October 9th, 2017
  1. Industrial Relations
  2. Flexible Work Arrangements

The ‘trick’ employers are missing to create flexible workplaces

A COMMON discussion point in employment circles this year, in particular, has been around the topic of flexibility in the workplace, where companies offer employees flexible working hours to meet the workers’ changing needs (family circumstances, carer’s responsibilities, or lifestyle choices).

According to research conducted by a PhD candidate from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), business-owners should be consulting human resources personnel to help their workplaces adapt to employing part-time workers.

Speaking with Workplace Bulletin, Natalie Smith said that in the course of her interviews with professional services firms, she had noticed that HR personnel were often shut-out of the negotiations with employees wanting to work part-time. Instead, companies were still too reliant on the individual managers.

“I think [organisations are] missing a trick because job design could and should be part of the human resources remit – they also get to see across an organisation,” she said.

“HR could be involved… to facilitate the conversation and negotiate between the work requirements and the individual preferences.”

Ms Smith said of the 24 interviews she completed as part of her Masters research, performance targets and workloads remained the same for half the people, while only their hours and pay had reduced.

She said her view for successfully transitioning workers from full-time to part-time was for managers to be clear on what the company outcomes need to be and then offering the individuals more flexibility about how they achieve those outcomes. And HR can play a role in those negotiations.

Whether that was working a few days every week, or reducing the number of clients for which a particular employee was responsible would depend on the nature of the work performed, she said.

While deadlines were not necessarily problematic for part-time work, tasks which were both unpredictable and urgent could present a difficulty. She said in these instances, teamwork was often the answer.

“If you are working as part of a team, then as long as you are working it out among yourselves as a team, sometimes the client doesn’t even know what is happening,” she said.

“The first thing [companies need] is a can-do attitude to try to make it work, but I think it is a continual negotiation between what is important to the business and what is important to the individual.”

Make part-time work for you

While changing the patterns and responsibilities of former full-time employees who aim to go part-time can be difficult, so too can understanding your obligations to newly appointed part-time employees.

What must you consider when changing the employee’s role? How do you ensure you are designing a new role that will suit both of you?

The Employment Law Practical Handbook is full of information, hints, tips, downloadable templates and forms to help navigate through this difficult terrain.

Comprehensive chapters, all written in plain English by the team at Holding Redlich, include:

  • C3 Changing Employees’ Jobs
  • H1 Hours of Work
  • W4 Workplace Change
  • C4 Casual Employment

Don’t delay, order your copy of the Employment Law Practical Handbook today on an obligation-free trial and see how these, and any of the other 70-plus chapters that cover all aspects of employment law, can help to simplify your business.

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