If the way we were working prior to the pandemic wasn’t working, simply wrapping flexible working up with a different name and leaving your employees with family and caregiving responsibilities to do as they please is compounding the challenges women and diverse employees are currently facing.
So, how do you get flexibility – including hybrid – right in the post pandemic world, for all employees with family and caregiving responsibilities, AND accelerate gender equality outcomes? These Six Steps will have your organisation flexing for success!
1. Clearly articulate a vision for flexibility
One that inspires employees to embrace flex through greater understanding of the behaviours, values, beliefs and symbols that will bring it to life. As leaders, your vision does the heavy lifting. Get it right, get your wider leadership team aligned on the purpose, and you will authorise the culture within your teams to bring it to life.
2. Introduce targeted measures like coaching & sponsorship to develop and retain your female talent with caregiving responsibilities
Caregiving disproportionately affects a company’s most experienced, highest paid workers who are the most likely to leave a company because of irreconcilable tensions between the requirements of work and home. The costs of losing such well regarded, experienced colleagues is significant at any time, but most especially now in a hot talent market. Beware too the domino effect of a few senior female leaders departing!
3. Interrogate your data for gender bias and create an expectation that it’s ok to care, regardless of your gender or position
It often comes as a surprise that 1 in 3 men change jobs when they become caregivers. Regardless of whether they are fearful of being penalised because of their flex needs, or they can’t see other men balancing caregiving responsibilities with their career ambitions, it’s safe to say that normalising caregiving for all employees and ensuring they have the autonomy, trust and sponsorship to flex must be a priority.
4. Improve leadership literacy and skills in managing hybrid, managing caregivers and make it bias free
New ways of working, greater expectations of managers to support personalised flexible work arrangements for their staff, all resting on the shoulders of mid level managers who are fatigued represents a great opportunity to develop and grow this cohort and ensure flex is mainstreamed.
5. Prioritise equity & inclusion
Level the playing field and ensure that Hybrid ways of working are not only positioned to clearly articulate the benefits of working remotely and coming into a workplace, but that hybrid is the expected way of working for everyone. Create flexible work options for your frontline workforce – can they do their training remotely? Can you introduce 4 hour shifts?
For as long as you have a two speed culture when it comes to career development and access to flexibility, you’ll be exposing your employees to the consequences of gender inequality, and exacerbating the gender pay gap. Whereas improving gender equality outcomes for everyone improves performance, productivity and profitability.
6. Recognise that employees will need training to ‘transition’ to the new ways of working you’re introducing
Hybrid is a new way of working. Yet many employees are stuck in ‘pandemic’ ways of working, without even realising it. Training staff to better understand the how, when and where of hybrid working is critical to building belonging, developing employees and maintaining a high performing workforce.
If you’d like further support or personalised coaching to further guide your organisation through the unique flex challenges and flex grudges your leaders and teams are facing, book a complimentary strategy session with a Grace Papers ‘flexpert’.