Flexible working arrangements are already a well-established feature in many organisations but for those still reluctant to loosen up, there are compelling arguments to give them a go.
Most importantly, workers want them. An overwhelming 92% of Australians say that work-life balance would affect their decision to change jobs or careers, according to a SEEK study. The SEEK Learning Defining Work-Life Balance Report also found that more than one in two Australians have changed jobs to find better work-life balance with most (70%) finding it.
And what does work-life balance mean to those people? It’s about flexible working hours, work that doesn’t disrupt home life, the ability to accumulate hours towards time off and no overtime.
This enthusiastic support for flexibility means that, for firms that champion work-life balance and actively promote it, it could make all the difference in attracting the best candidate. Not only that, flexible work practices could help you keep the best talent, as well as improve motivation and morale, writes professor of management Scott Behson on Harvard Business Review’s blog.
Behson notes that, while there are some jobs where it may be more difficult to introduce ‘time and place’ flexibility, most will include some tasks (“maybe even up to a third of an entire job”) that can be done anywhere or anytime.
Boost Juice favours results over presenteeism
At Boost Juice, flexibility is built into the DNA of the organisation thanks to the decision by founder Janine Allis to begin the business in 2000 while wrangling two young children (aged 1 and 7). Since then, she’s built a juice and smoothie empire with 260 stores around Australia and added another two children to the family.
As a result, Allis knows the challenges that families face in juggling work and life, and the organisation is “very family friendly”, says National HR Manager, Lisa Fisher.
“We’re pretty easy-going when it comes to people managing their own time. It’s an environment where it’s not frowned on if you need to pop out to your child’s assembly or go to the doctor. As long as your manager is aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and you get your job done at the end of the day, we’re OK with that.
“We’re not clock-watchers,” says Fisher of the 113 staff in the company’s Melbourne-based Support Centre. “There’s a mix of people here with different family and other commitments so some people come in late and finish late – and vice versa. We all have our own laptops and mobile phones that allow us to access work wherever we need to.”
Focusing on results rather than supporting presenteeism has served the company well, says Fisher. “It’s not about people just sitting in their chairs between 9 and 5; it’s that they’re achieving what needs to be done for the business to continue to move forward and successfully operate.
“It’s about understanding that people have a life outside of work, and sometimes you just need to be flexible to get the best out of them,” says Fisher.
Boost Juice also provides employee benefits aimed at supporting work-life balance. There’s a fully-stocked kitchen, with smoothies (of course!), toast and cereal available for breakfast for those who start early, and subsidised gym memberships. And, proving that a flexible approach can help to retain key talent, the company has recently organised for one of its employees to work remotely after she decided to move interstate to be closer to family for support after the upcoming birth of her baby.
The company’s stores, mostly found in shopping centres, are staffed by a manager and assistant manager, along with a host of part-timers. But even here, says Fisher, there is some flexibility.
“Shopping centre hours are often quite family-friendly and also some of the managers work part-time,” says Fisher.
The company hasn’t enshrined its flexible work practices in a formal policy. “We’re a group of people that work to the best of our ability and get our jobs done. The leadership team trust us to do our jobs and do them well.”