Requesting and negotiating flexible working arrangements can be a daunting and stressful experience. To help improve an employee’s ability to successfully determine, prepare and request flexible working arrangements from their employer, we offer the following tips:
- Work out what you want –Spend some time to determine what you want. If the world was a perfect place and taking into account your individual circumstances, what would a balanced life look like for you?Create a wish list and prioritise what is most important right now that would really benefit you and your family to create work life balance.Determine what is within your control that you can start actioning straight away. Then determine what you may need to gain support on from your employer.
- How would it work on a day-to-day basis?It is important to visualise how your day or working week would go if what you wanted was granted. How would you meet your work deadlines?How would your internal and/or external customers be served in your absence?Will work need to be passed on to others and is this at all possible?
Determine possible solutions to these related questions prior to speaking with your employer as they will no doubt be wondering how to solve these as well.
- What are the benefits –Be really clear what the benefits would be for your employer to support your request.It is important to ensure that with any request, you need to sell the idea emphasising the benefits.What are the positives that are possible as a result of your request?For example; reduced salary cost due to reduction in hours, improved productivity (as you’ve got less time to do the same work), they get to retain you instead of you moving to another employer that offers the flexibility you’re looking for.
- Be clear with your request –So you’ve done your preparation, now it’s time to speak with your Manager or HR representative.It is always good to have a conversation but also to document your request in writing as well (via email maybe sufficient-depending on your organisation).This will demonstrate that your request is serious and also creates the opportunity for your employer to respond formally.Depending on the relationship you have with this person will depend on your approach, however I would personally encourage having a brief conversation to introduce the idea that you’re wanting to talk further about it, send through your formal request in writing, then schedule a meeting to discuss further.
It is important throughout these communications that you may need to compromise on your proposed arrangements to ensure that business objectives are also met.
Ensure that if you need to compromise with your employer, allow yourself time to consider it and if possible get back to them the next day. I always find it good to sleep on decisions and also talk with your family to determine if this is going to work.
- Your employer’s not convinced –What about a trial period? – initially, your employer may not be convinced that your request will work.A good idea is to suggest a trial period that will allow both parties to see if the arrangement will suit both parties.Another suggestion could be phasing in the working arrangements so that you, your Manager, your colleagues and your clients have time to adjust.
- Be willing to be flexible –Depending on the business requirements, you may need to be adjust your flexible arrangements from time to time.I have spoken with many employees and Managers and the best flexible working arrangements are when there is a “give and take” by both parties.For example, your employer may have a big deadline due that requires you to work during time that you would normally have off, but then you may be able to have some time off at a time you normally work.
- Be open to review the arrangements –As I’m sure you’d like the opportunity to change what has been agreed should your individual circumstances change, it is the same for your employer.Be open to the thought that these arrangements may not be forever and that they may be reviewed and/or changed to meet future business requirements.This of course could be driven by your own changes in circumstances, which may led to other flexible working arrangement requests to satisfy your future work life balance needs.
The key tips have been shared to help you determine, prepare and request flexible working arrangements. We encourage that you always speak to your employer first prior to seeking a new job as who knows, they may be able to offer you exactly what you’re looking for – all you’ve got to do is ask!
Good luck and drop us a line as we’d love to hear how you go – firstname.lastname@example.org.