Episode 1: Fairness for the front line – Building a culture of greater flexibility in a fair and equitable way
Workplace culture is evolving, and what was right in the past isn’t necessarily right for today and the future. People are starting to see flexibility as a right, not a privilege. It is the future of careers and workforces. Businesses that prioritise and successfully put in place effective workplace flexibility are likely to realise the benefits of a more engaged, productive, and resilient workforce, accelerating a healthier workplace culture.
Organisations have a tremendous opportunity, but to fully realise these benefits they need to keep up to speed with the changing definition of flexibility, challenge deep-rooted organisational norms, and reevaluate what is possible.
While workplace flexibility can bring numerous benefits, it comes with many challenges. A critical one is that the needs of people across the business vary significantly, especially in organisations with a very diverse workforce. Not all workers have the same freedom which may cause difficulties and frictions. Flexibility is as much in demand among non-office workers as it is for office workers. An equitable culture is one that recognises that the same approach doesn’t work for everyone, and leaders need to find different ways to accommodate the needs of their diverse workforce.
From our experience, organisations who are effectively navigating the flexibility needs of their people in a fair and equitable way:
- Don’t try to resolve this on their own. They take an inclusive approach and work with their people to truly listen to their needs, motivations and frustrations and explore together what might be possible, tapping into the organisation’s collective wisdom.
- Take a dynamic and iterative approach. They are continuously assessing, evaluating the impact of what they put in place, gather feedback, learn, adapt and keep iterate and improve.
- Communicate a strong story for everyone to understand the why, what and how of flexibility. They craft and overcommunicate a strong and compelling narrative about their approach to flexibility, why they are creating that shift, who is impacted and what are the intended outcomes.
- Tackle flexibility systemically. An effective organisation is one that recognises that all parts of the system have a role to play in promoting a culture of greater flexibility. From the way the organisation is designed and operates, to processes and technology, leaders role modelling the right behaviours, teams shifting ways of working, to how the talent management and development approach needs to change to truly embed and allow for greater flexibility.
If this topic is of interest or you are facing a similar challenge in your organisation. We would love to chat!