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Managing

Best Practices

Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs)

Introduction

As employees move through various life stages, their needs and priorities are likely to change. For example, older workers may inherit childcare responsibilities, or develop a desire to spend more time with their family. One way to manage these changing preferences is to offer flexible work arrangements.

Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) are variations from usual work arrangements in terms of time, location or workload. They provide employees the flexibility to better manage their work responsibilities and personal commitments. FWAs commonly extend to all individuals in an organisation. The responsibilities undertaken in the roles may remain unchanged, however their working hours and location may vary according to their needs.

Examples of FWAs include:

  • Flexi-time: Staggered hours and a compressed work week, for instance working longer hours for four days a week
  • Flexi-place: Telecommuting, working from home and working from smart work centres or satellite offices
  • Flexi-load: Part-time work, project work

Benefits

As your employees go through different life stages, their personal circumstances and goals may change.

Providing older workers with FWAs is a win-win solution as it enables you to address the needs of your older workers, and continue to capitalise and maximise the productivity of an ageing workforce.

Other benefits include greater employee morale and lower attrition rates, as older workers who may have considered leaving the organisation or retiring are provided alternative ways of working.

Tips on implementing FWAs

For FWAs to be successful, you should have:

Visible support from your senior management
Visible support from your senior management:

Leaders set the tone. They need to display strong commitment and support for FWAs.

A supportive work environment
A supportive work environment:

Nurture a culture of trust and care, where co-workers are supportive of colleagues who are on FWAs.

The desire to retain your experienced older workers
The desire to retain your experienced older workers:

FWAs are generally introduced to retain a valuable employee who would have otherwise left the organisation. This is also the case for older workers the organisation wants to retain because they have valuable skills, experience and institutional knowledge.

If you are considering implementing FWAs, you should:

#1
Establish the business case

Work out the business case for valuing your older workers and providing FWAs for them. This includes understanding why and how your company can benefit, as well as any costs of such arrangements. Find out what other similar companies are doing and what worked for them, then think of how to adapt their practices to your own company. Review your company’s current culture, policy, practices and procedures related to older workers and FWAs.

#2
Align business needs with employees’ work-life needs

Be clear about what your business needs are, whether they are corporate goals or operational standards. Review your organisation’s existing composition and its projected needs for the foreseeable future. Similarly, you should find out more about the needs of your employees and understand the motivation behind requests for FWAs. Workforce profiling, employee surveys and focus groups are commonly used complementarily to learn about the challenges faced by employees in managing their work commitments and their personal and family needs.

#3
Implement work-life programmes

After deciding on the FWAs which suit your organisation, the next step is to implement them.

  • Establish standardised criteria and processes to manage requests and approvals for FWAs. This ensures transparency and objectivity. When determining the appropriate FWA to be offered to an employee, you can look at factors such as:
    • The skill set, health and habits of the employee
    • The impact of the FWA on the employee’s job requirements
    • The impact of the FWA on other employees working directly with the employee
  • Adjust performance review and awards of your employees who are on FWAs, if needed.
  • You can roll out FWAs progressively for batches of employees by starting pilot programmes for some.
  • Conduct training sessions for supervisors. These sessions should highlight the value of older workers, address misconceptions about older workers, teach supervisors appropriate ways of handling this group objectively, and share how to effectively implement FWAs for older workers.
  • Review the current performance and appraisal process to ensure objectivity and alignment to the FWA.
  • Appoint a team to champion the new policy with the aim of gaining employee support throughout the organisation.
  • Communicate and promote the FWA throughout your company
    • Communication is key. For FWAs to benefit older workers, they first need to be aware of these programmes. Studies have shown that being aware of these programmes is as important as actually using them, when it comes to improving employee engagement and retention rates.
    • Use a variety communication channels which are effective and familiar, including town halls and team meetings, emails, your company’s intranet, message boards, and department lunches.
#4
Evaluate

Assess if having FWAs for older workers has benefited both the employees and the company.

  • Set specific goals for the initiative and a timeline for reviewing it
  • Identify key performance indicators and track key success factors
  • Review and refine where necessary

Programmes & Resources

Work-Life Resource Portal

Work-Life Works! is a comprehensive portal to assist employers in the implementation of work-life strategies and FWAs.

Read More

Company Practices

Maybank

Maybank supports the Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Workers, by rehiring workers beyond the age of 62 and doing away with the discretionary wage cut. Beyond that, for retirees who are still keen on being gainfully employed, the Bank keeps them in their resource pool and offers them short-term and part-time employment, whenever the opportunity arises. This is a win-win situation as the retiree enjoys a flexible work arrangement, and is a useful and valued resource for the Bank.

Information is accurate as of December 2017