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Can You Touch Your Toes?
I recall an interview with a candidate many years ago. The question asked at interview was ‘How flexible are you? Much to my surprise the candidate answered ‘I can touch my toes’. In hindsight, maybe this was a badly worded question but the candidate got the job!
So now we have passed Monday 30 June 2014, a milestone date for employers. You must have heard about flexible working, where all employees with 26 weeks service can now request to work flexibly. I can imagine some employers have been dreading this day, and in some businesses there may have been a queue of people in the past week lining up with their requests to work flexibly.
Impact on teamwork.
Whilst embracing flexible working myself by working part-time, I have reservations as to how this may impact on teamwork.
Nick Clegg states that 'More businesses know that flexible working boosts productivity and staff morale, and helps them keep their top talent so that they can grow' www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28078690. I do agree that more businesses are finding this. But has Mr Clegg thought about the effects this change could have on teamwork, particularly in the service sector? Will it be a race to get your request to work flexibly in first, particularly for employees with children? Could it all turn bitter quite quickly?
A first step is to encourage employees to put their request in the appropriate format (as provided in the QCS policy document on flexible working). While this means you have to be seen to consider the request (in a reasonable manner), the employee has also to say how they think the arrangement could work for you.
If some requests are granted, but some denied, the team dynamic could be gone, introducing a negative team atmosphere. This change in culture is certain to boost motivation and employee engagement in some cases, but for those feeling hard done by, if requests aren’t granted, you may find demotivated employees who will ‘work to rule’. This could ultimately affect service users or patients through the quality of service they receive.
One approach may be prioritise requests on first come first served. But then some applicants may put a more persuasive case than others. The aim must be to reach a situation that is ‘felt fair’ by all employees involved – not always easy!
How this will affect services will remain to be seen. I’m hopeful this will be positively, but only time will really tell! Should you encounter difficulties, contact QCS who can put you in touch with Employer Solutions who are there to help.
Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor