Flexible work practices - implemented, but not promoted
16 March 2010 8:14am
Almost nine in ten employers in Australia and New Zealand have established flexible work practices, but many admit their employees are unaware of the benefits - and less than half are using them to attract new candidates, a Rubicor survey has found.
Rubicor CEO Jane Beaumont said the results showed that workplace flexibility had become "part of the fabric of the corporate landscape".
"However, there is a clear lack of communication of existing flexible practices into both recruitment and retention processes," Beaumont said.
"Greater focus is required on up-skilling front line managers on how to communicate and promote flexibility to existing and potential employees."
Only 56 per cent of businesses surveyed were sure their employees knew what flexible work benefits were on offer, less than half regularly used them as a recruitment tool, and just 17 per cent tracked competitor offerings.
While respondents acknowledged flexible work practices had the potential to raise retention, engagement and morale, they expressed concern over the management time required, higher costs and lower productivity.
Employers wanting to remain competitive in a tightening recruitment market must make flexible benefits "an integral part" of their recruitment process as they strive "to match, if not exceed" the offerings of their peers, Beaumont said.
The workplace flexibility survey also found two thirds of HR managers and business leaders had not received any training on how to deal with flexible work requests.
Train managers to deal with flexible requests
According to Acumen Lawyers solicitor director Brad Petley, with any legislative change involving new entitlements and obligations it is important to realise that some employees, including managers, might have an incorrect understanding of how the laws should be applied.
"Managers need to be trained in how this operates, and there needs to be a communication strategy to employees to get the message out there," Petley told an HR Daily webinar late last year.
It is important for employers to have "a streamlined policy and procedure to deal with requests", he says, including application and response forms and appropriate advice for applicants and decision makers.
Employers should also:
continually monitor the policy's operation;
track and review requests (e.g. assess impact on turnover and morale); and
be mindful of legal obligations (e.g. timeframes for response and rejection based on reasonable business grounds).
Individual applications requesting flexible arrangements should be assessed on a case-by-case basis; and written responses to requests should focus on the needs of the business at the time it is made, Petley says.
HR Daily has previously hosted a webinar on flexible work requests. Click here to watch it (HRD Plus Gold subscription required), or here to order a copy from our online store.