Gone are the days when flexible working hours were seen as a luxury enjoyed by a select few. Today, more and more jobseekers are after flexible work arrangements. In fact, Randstad’s 2017 Employer Branding Research reveals work-life balance is the number one priority for Australian workers – yet employers only rank it number eight.
Australian workplaces are still prioritising financial rewards, technology and job security to attract the top talent, when they should be embracing a shift away the nine-to-five and encouraging employees to work to a schedule that suits them.
Troy Roderick, Telstra’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, says the company has been able to retain staff they might otherwise have lost since introducing an Australia-first All Roles Flex policy in 2013.
“Flexibility is an important attractor and an important retention driver for all people,” he says. “It’s becoming one of the number one things that people look for in a role so they can balance work and other things they want to do.
“We know that across an employee’s lifecycle there are going to be things that happen, whether they relate to study, children, travel or whatever experiences a person might want to have. If we want to retain the best people, we need to be a place where people are enabled to have real lives and still be able to contribute their best efforts.”
While most managers agree to flexible arrangements on an ad hoc basis, All Roles Flex policies remove the expectation that an employee should have to justify and seek permission for a change in their schedule. Instead of asking “why?”, managers should be asking “why not?” when it comes to offering workplace flexibility.
And it’s not just for senior employees with carer responsibilities. All Roles Flex policies give employees the freedom to decide what’s important to them and how that should fit around their workplace responsibilities.
“I remember years back there would be a form you had to fill out if you wanted to work part time, and there might be a limited number of reasons for why you wanted to do that,” Troy says.
“It’s almost as though employers had decided there are only a few reasons that would be considered good enough to take you away from the workplace. But we know people have all sorts of things going on.
“At Telstra, employees don’t have to give a reason. They just have to explain how outcomes are going to be delivered.”
Since Telstra pioneered the All Roles Flex approach, a number of organisations have introduced similar policies. The Victorian Government, ranked number two on Randstad’s Most Desirable Places to Work list this year, recently announced a move to allow all employees to work more flexibly. The Victorian Public Sector Commission says greater flexibility is needed in the public sector to attract and retain the best staff.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Secretary Adam Fennessy says the shift towards All Roles Flex has been met with a positive response in his department.
“Not surprisingly we’re finding much higher levels of staff engagement,” he says. “Staff feel trusted and it has also helped us push our digital reliance because if staff have good technology they can work from all sorts of locations.”
Following Telstra’s example, PwC Australia – ranked thirteenth on the list of Most Desirable Places to Work – has also rolled out an All Roles Flex policy.
“It’s about creating an inclusive culture that enables all of our people to realise their full potential,” says Marcus Laithwaite, the company’s Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer. Marcus says the policy recognises that it’s not where or when employees work that matters, but what they do. “We want our staff’s working patterns to suit them, their teams, and their personal commitments,” he says.
Find out what Australian employees want with the Australian Randstad Employer Brand Research, download a copy of the report here. www.randstad.com.au/employer-brand-research