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  • Writer's pictureKaren Williams

Are You Prepared for Flexible Work Arrangements?

We’re currently facing the reality of the Great Resignation. It seems like everyone is understaffed nowadays, since many companies are having extreme difficulty finding enough people to work. As a business owner, you not only need to attract new talent, but retain the great talent you already have.

How do you do that?

Retaining employees, especially those who are talented and highly productive, requires making them feel valued. Have you created a company culture where your employees feel heard and can share ideas freely? If so, great! (And if not, you have bigger issues than retention).

How do you respond to employees proposing ideas to you that you may or may not want to consider?

Here are three situations that have become very common nowadays.

Situation 1: Derrick

Derrick has worked with you for six months in your carpet installation business. As an installer, he doesn’t have the ability to work remotely. He approaches you with sudden childcare issues. His children are school age, but he has difficulty getting them to school and caring for them after school since his normal shift is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. His wife used to take care of their childcare needs before and after school shifts, but she is now the primary caregiver for her ill father and has no flexibility.

Derrick often volunteers to work overtime because your business is short-staffed. He says he would still like to work overtime and offers to put in extra hours on the weekends when his sister can look after the children. Derrick has also asked you if he could start coming in an hour later in the morning, which would allow him to get the children to school. He hasn’t figured out what to do yet about getting them home from school and caring for them every afternoon.

How would you handle Derrick’s request?

Situation 2: Johnna

Johnna, your IT person, wants to continue working remotely although you want her and everyone else who had been working remotely back in the office full-time. While Johnna continues to be excellent in her performance, coming into the office just seems right.

However, what you didn’t know is that Johnna has just sold her house in Nashville, where your business is located, and has moved to another state with her boyfriend.

Johnna is very clear that she would like to continue working with you, but only on her conditions: remote or she quits.

What might you do about Johnna?

Situation 3: Katerina

Katerina does your accounting and payroll work. Your office went remote during the pandemic. When your employees began virtual work in March 2020, you required that they all work Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour off for lunch at 12 p.m.

Your goal on set hours was to keep the team as cohesive as possible for both your clients and team members, so they would be available to Zoom or chat as needed. Several employees asked in the past for more flexible hours, but you thought the work would suffer if you allowed them to deviate from the schedule.

Katerina started a side business on Etsy in 2021. She told you about it at the time, and you were impressed with her initiative. Katerina has now approached you and said she really needs to have more flexible hours. She is still willing to work 40 hours/week, but she claims she needs time during the day to work on her side hustle.

You initially denied Katerina’s request, but she asked if she could try it for one month then reassess if it worked well for everyone. You still want to say no out of fear that others will make the same request.

What should you do about Katerina’s request? How might it impact the team?

Our new workplace reality is that employees expect more flexibility than they used to. They have lots of options, and if they choose to quit, it could be hard to replace them.

But how do you handle the reality of running a company and trying to work with your employees’ needs?

Do you risk Derrick quitting if you refuse to give him the new hours he needs? Can you take care of your customers if Derrick changes his hours? Can Johnna still continue to work effectively for your company if she works in another state when everyone else is returning to the office? And is it reasonable to give Katerina a one month trial on a proposed new work arrangement? What if everyone in your business wanted new work hours?

At MGMTinsight we can help you assess and find solutions to some of these challenging issues.

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