The word 'flexibility' is often seen in the discussion surrounding accommodating working parents in the workplace. But everyone has a life outside work, and we all need our work to fit in with our lives. An article released by People Management magazine says "the call for flexibility comes from all sectors of the population. It could be for volunteer work, sport and leisure pursuits, education or other aspirations that we want to fit into our lives."
The Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) released a report 'Get Flexible or Get Real' which found that flexibility optimises resources and productivity. The findings from the research showed that while many people have access to ‘basic’ flexible work options, meaningful flexible work and careers are not common practice in Australian workplaces, despite mainstreaming flexible work and careers being a business imperative, capable of:
- Enabling businesses to be sustainable and adaptable to change;
- Providing a pathway to gender equality;
- Assisting with talent attraction and retention; and
- Improving workplace productivity.
Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac, mums@work client, told DCA: "By making flexible working arrangements an embedded business practice for all employees, at all levels of management and at different stages of their career, organisations become more sustainable and adaptive to change whilst also creating a competitive advantage in the on-going war for talent."
UK firm CIPD have called on their government to extend flexible working rights to all employees. They agree that flexibility is 'a hugely beneficial source of competitive advantage and will deliver significant returns.'
'Flexible Work' and creating 'work/life balance' are common terms we use, but many organisations are in the dark about how to implement them and create this life-changing culture in their organisation.
Emma Walsh, Director of mums@work says that it's important for managers and leaders in organisations to think past the infamous 'part-time' stigma. "Being creative about flexible work options and not adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, will ensure success in retaining employees," Ms Walsh says.
Author: Elysha Stephens, Marketing & Communications Consultant