What can organisations do to allow for greater flexibility in the workplace? Could performance management processes play a part?
Organisations wishing to maximise efficiency, productivity and performance should look to flexible working in the years to come. It has been shown that flexibility within a job role has a number of benefits. It makes your company more attractive to prospective employees and is a great way to retain individuals with challenging home-life demands. Importantly, the offer of flexible working also shows that you trust your workforce to perform their job without stringent, old-fashioned enforcements.
Millennials, who are now the nation’s largest generation in the workforce, are demanding flexible work in order to achieve greater work-life balance. In fact, a Millennial Branding report shows that 45% of Generation Y would choose increased workplace flexibility over increased pay. Another study shows a positive correlation between flexibility and increased productivity. This appears to be the way of the future, so forward-thinking companies should act now or risk being outperformed by their competitors. But how can performance management systems realistically go about introducing flexibility into their everyday processes?
Allow employees to set their own goals
Flexibility can easily be implemented into goal setting. Rather than assigning employees tasks and goals, the setting of SMART objectives should be a collaborative one, with the employee in the driving seat. They know their limitations and strengths, so they are in the best position to guide the process.
Giving employees the ability to decide their own goals grants them a degree of freedom over their own career paths that will motivate and encourage them. We are far more driven to accomplish goals we set ourselves. Managers should always be on hand to push employees when necessary, but if your organisation is looking to implement flexible working, goal setting is a great place to start.
Consider remote working options
If employees do not need to have a physical presence in the office in order to carry out their role efficiently, consider implementing remote working. According to a 2015 survey, seven million Brits work from home and there are a number of sources to support the assertion that remote workers are more productive.
If you are concerned your employees won’t adapt well to home working, performance management software can be used to track progress, ensuring assignments are carried out on time and to standard. Quality software also allows for greater communication and real-time feedback. Given that employees with a long commute are less productive than those with little or no commute, the introduction of telecommuting might be a wise performance management decision. If you decide to go down this route, remember the importance of regular, productive employee communication.
Introduce flexi-time as a working option
It is becoming clear that the traditional working hours of 9am — 5pm are dying out. Rather than fighting this, use it to your advantage. Not everyone has the same productivity rhythms. Some work better in the morning, while others feel a surge of inspiration later in the evening. Some employees will also be affected by external factors such as family obligations. Keeping this in mind and allowing employees to decide their own hours, within reason, is an optimal way of loosening the reigns at work, while encouraging strong performance.
Shift the focus onto results
Companies such as LinkedIn, Evernote and Netflix are pioneers in their approach to workplace flexibility. These companies all make use of a concept known as “unlimited holidays”, where organisations don’t keep track of employee days off. Workers don’t have a maximum number of holidays they can utilise in a year, which might sound like a radical concept, but the idea works due to the fact that they have switched to a results-only work environment. Employees are required to regularly check in with their managers to ensure they are performing well and that they are hitting targets. In this way, organisations are focusing on what really matters: genuine results, rather than a physical presence in the office.
For a variety of reasons, some workers are unable to adhere to conventional office hours. Some might have pressing family commitments, while others have medical conditions that limit the amount of hours they can work. Rather than losing promising employees, performance management systems can consider the prospect of job sharing. Job sharing has been referred to as ‘the secret to work-life balance’ by some and it is a great alternative for working mothers, who have been shown to be high achievers and an undervalued resource in the world of work.
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