HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Just how flexible are you? Tips for HR and business leaders

By Shandel McAuliffe | |6 minute read
Just how flexible are you? Tips for HR and business leaders

Have you adopted hybrid working and therefore think you’ve ticked the flexibility box? Flexibility isn’t that easy to achieve, and it takes careful thought by HR and organisation leaders to implement it well.


"Flexibility" runs the danger of being a buzzword that a business doesn’t fully understand. What might be considered very flexible working terms for one person, could simply be the tip of the iceberg to someone else. And different employees will have different types of flexibility needs.

To avoid shouting from the rooftops that you’re a flexible business, while your employees are secretly telling everyone they know that the organisation is old-fashioned and rigid, it’s wise to make sure your definition and offering around flexibility is, in itself, flexible!

As with most HR initiatives, it’s important for HR and business leaders not to operate in silos. If you’re not 100 per cent sure that you’re nailing flexibility for your workforce, ask them! And if you do think you’re excelling in this area, ask them anyway. Do an employee survey, asking your staff for their opinion on the current flexible arrangements on offer, and then ask them for their ideas on what they’d value that’s not already on the table.

Hybrid working – a mix of working from home and working from the office – is a form of flexibility that might come to mind for many people right now. But there are other forms of flexibility, too.

Have you considered:

  • Flexi start and finish times
  • Flexi workdays (e.g. working a weekend day and having a weekday off in its place)
  • Offering time off in lieu (TOIL) for overtime (make sure you stay within your legal and wellbeing obligations etc. if employees are working long hours)
  • Allowing employees to buy extra annual leave, or take unpaid leave
  • Sabbaticals so employees can fulfil a personal goal/responsibility etc. without losing their job
  • Offering job share opportunities when part-time roles aren’t feasible
  • Allowing employees to work from locations other than their home or office (being mindful of tax and legal ramifications etc.)

… the list goes on.

No matter what you decide to offer in terms of flexibility, make sure it’s fair for all your employees, and communicated well so everyone understands. It might be the case that not all teams can work from home, for example, in that instance perhaps you could offer those employees who need to be in the office another form of flexibility.

Given the changes we’ve all experienced over the last couple of years, flexibility can’t be a “set-and-forget” activity. As HR and business leaders, it’s wise to keep checking in with your employees to make sure your idea of what’s flexible matches what your employees need.


Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Linkedin