Q: My co-workers and I want to approach our leadership team about having more flexibility at work. It very limited. We have scheduled breaks, lunch hours and start/end times. We work for someone who started his career over 30 years ago and he thinks the working world should mimic how he worked many years ago. Of course, our customers come first, but it would be nice if we could still service our customers but also have a little bit more flexibility.
A: You and your co-workers sound like a thoughtful team. It is important to think about this in a reasonable and practical way before you approach your leadership team.
I would first recommend that you gather data. There is a truckload of data, from a number of sources, discussing flexible work schedules, four-day workweeks, Friday afternoons off and more. Do your research and think about the impact on your business.
Second, be prepared for some natural resistance. Many leaders would naturally resist changes to work schedules as they think about their own personal experiences or worry about their customers’ experiences. Now is the time to approach your leadership team. It is challenging to find capable employees in 2022. For some companies, flexibility for employees can be marketed to both customers and employees. The message may be that our employees are valuable and they are looking for more flexibility, so we are reviewing work schedules and other benefits to better meet the needs of our changing workforce.
Third, present viable options. If your busy season is September, then ask if these schedules can be started in October. If your leadership team still pushes back, ask for a pilot program during your non-busy season.
Finally, thank your leadership team for considering these options. For some employees, flexibility is more important than compensation.
When we talk to candidates and employees, many are expecting flexible work schedules, remote work (partial or full) and more of a focus on an employees’ needs. The concept of “Quiet Quitting” is real. This concept is the reality for a growing number of employees. In short, it is the notion of giving a reasonable effort at work, but not taking on more than what is minimal required. An employee will do their job, but not anything beyond their job. An employee will not go above and beyond by taking on extra projects, volunteering to stay late or chipping in while a co-worker is out. Employers may have to re-think how they manage and what they offer employees. We are at an interesting time in the employment market. I look forward to seeing how this unfolds over the next few years.
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.