Flexible working needs to balance the requirements of all stakeholders – not just one group – in order to be truly successful, says From Another, which helps organisations and individuals manage flexible work.
With three main stakeholder groups – parents, managers and leaders – having different expectations from flexible working, there’s a danger that opposing needs can result in friction and dissatisfaction leading to reduced productivity and low retention rates.
Following 110 hours of listening exercises over a 12-week period where From Another heard from 350 stakeholders about attitudes towards flexible working arrangements, potential conflicts of interest between all three main stakeholder groups were revealed. This provides clues as to how organisations can implement frictionless approaches to flexible working.
The From Another Frictionless Flexibility #1: Balancing the Needs of Employees and Managers report revealed that of the 70% of working parents who had access to flexible work arrangements, only 57% agreed that these arrangements were adequate for their needs. Additionally, 81% of managers agreed that managing flexible work requires a different skillset to managing non-flexible work arrangements, however, 44% did not feel they had the right training, tools and support for their needs.
The research also found that flexibility friction can be reduced by investing in relationships and training, being clear about objectives and agreeing boundaries of flexibility in advance.
Jess Lancashire, CEO of From Another, highlights the divide between these groups in terms of flexibility, explaining that parents desire autonomy, managers seek predictability, and leaders strive for growth. Jess adds:
Flexibility is not a one-way street. It needs to be broken down into different perspectives so we’re not just focusing on one group, but all three. It’s about looking at the set of different, nuanced relationships and looking at how you can balance those different needs. It’s important to find ways to empower team members to articulate their needs and then find mechanisms to help balance these against the needs of the organisation.
Jess Lancashire, CEO of From Another
The From Another report also highlights the imbalance within organisations when offering flexibility, as more than half of managers (55%) say flexible work is available to employees at different levels. This has an impact on equity and trust – lesser-known but crucial factors that often outweigh the emphasis on the specific time and place of work.
Jess Lancashire explained:
Trust and equity play key roles in harnessing the benefits of flexible work while minimising the disbenefits. Trusting employees to manage their time and complete work in a way that suits them best encourages them to take ownership of their responsibilities and perform at their highest potential. When it comes to equity, organisations can provide, for instance, additional family leave days for parents to manage their children’s sickness. This inclusivity sends a strong message that the organisation values the diverse needs of its employees.
Frictionless Flexibility #1: Balancing the Needs of Employees and Managers report is based on listening exercises of over 110 hours, explores what flexible work truly means and innovative ways of approaching it.
- Tensions between three main stakeholders – parents, managers and leaders.
- What can happen when these tensions are out of balance.
- How to make flexible work a success.
Download your copy here.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.