Raising kids, caring for aging parents, and managing a career on top of it? The growing demands and expectations put on women today can be too much, leaving many women feeling stuck and that their only option is to give up their career – or put it on hold. Women leaving the workforce not only stalls their future opportunities, it also puts a big drain on the talent pool.
As employers look for creative ways to draw and retain top candidates, one stands out as an attractive option for many women: flex work. This has become a successful approach for a growing number of organizations, many of whom are recognized for their innovative workflex initiatives each year by the When Work Works Award.
Flex work sounds great, but what does is look like?
For some it means flexible work hours, telecommuting, paid leave for volunteer activities, extended maternity leave, or time to work out and recharge.
Flexible work schedules may be the solution employers and women need to meet changing demands both face. However, some employers may need convincing. With the right strategy, you can make a strong case for a flex work arrangement that works for you and your employer.
What Flex Work Can Do for You – and Your Manager
Flex work isn’t a one-size-fits-all program, and it’s this unique feature that makes it so attractive. You can still be an impactful member of your team, without the guilt that your obligations at home aren’t being met.
Employers implementing a flex work schedule have seen better hiring ratios, reduced turnover, higher productivity and improved employee satisfaction. Offering a higher salary is not always an option, or even the right one for employers when it comes to the retention of women employees. Benefits such as flex work can be a powerful alternative to keep top employees, and a productive way to improve the bottom line.
Getting Management On-board May Be Your Biggest Challenge
One of the top challenges of implementing a flexible work program is getting support from management. While it does have definite benefits, some companies may need to make adjustments to how they operate, and have a hard time seeing how to do that.
Creating a flexible work schedule may mean moving office systems to the cloud to give remote employees access, looking at call volume to see which hours in the day need the most staffing, or additional manager training to lead off-site or part-time employees. But the pay-off is there with motivated, engaged employees ready to drive innovation.
How Do You Make the Case for Flex Work?
When making a case for a flexible work arrangement, you need to keep some important factors in mind:
- Before making your request, come up with a plan outlining various options and goals that would work for you and your employer; some compromise and flexibility may be needed. You may consider offering a combination of being on-site certain days and telecommuting the others, rather than being off-site completely.
- Identify the concerns your boss is most likely to raise and come prepared with solutions on how you will address them. Is there a weekly meeting you’ll be missing? You might propose attending the meeting virtually with Skype or a conference call.
- Be sure to appeal to the interests of your manager in your proposal and not just yours. Demonstrate how flexible working hours won’t hurt your productivity – and will likely improve it.
- Another consideration to ease into the transition is to propose a trial period of a few weeks or a couple of months. This will be an excellent way to show you can get the job done while working flexible hours.
By presenting a business case for your request, you will demonstrate what’s in it for your manager and employer, and how they will benefit from the arrangement.
Flex Work is Not Just a Passing Trend
The good news is flex work in some form has become more wide-spread among organizations and seems here to stay. The WorldatWork survey reported that 80% of companies offer some sort of flexible work arrangements.
This change in the work landscape gives more women the opportunity to have a full career and leaders a means of keeping valuable employees.