A “people” culture and flexibility

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Q:  I work in a technology company.  Most employees really put forth an effort every day and on every project.  There are a few who take advantage of our laid-back “people” culture.  There is a group who will take afternoon bike rides to “clear their brains” during the day.  I even found one colleague asleep in our employee lounge.  Our CEO is a relaxed guy and very fair.  He trusts people, maybe too much.  We do fire employees who are not meeting expectations.  What are your suggestions for addressing the folks who seem to take advantage of the perks within my workplace?

A:  More and more companies are moving to a very employee-centric work environment.  If employers are expecting employees to be available during the evenings and weekends, employers are giving employees a bit of extra flexibility during the week.  With that said, most employees are respectful and appreciative of such an environment.  However, there are some who take advantage of such flexibility.  Many companies are giving employees the option of working flexible hours if they can still complete their work.  Instead of watching when employees punch in and punch out, managers are evaluating an employee’s productivity and results vs. the actual hours worked.  The real question is are employees completing their work tasks and their work-related objectives?

The managers of the employees who take advantage may be observing these behaviors too.   Perhaps these perceived slackers are working remotely until 1:00 am on the tight deadline.  Or they may have been partying the night before at a local bar.  You and I don’t know.  You have to trust your employees.  However, if some are taking advantage of that trust and not getting their work done, managers should be addressing these concerns with the employees.  It sounds like some employees have been terminated for not doing their jobs well.  This is sometimes a necessary evil.  This may be an encouraging sign — managers are monitoring performance and responding appropriately to those who can’t effectively perform their job.

Kudos to your employer for building a trustful work environment.  Most will respect it but some will not.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.