From the Blog

Connecting flexibility to your culture

Last week, we talked about the dark side of work-life integration — flexibility guilt — and the positive effects when employees have truly flexible schedules, like better sleep, less stress and feeling happier. 

But for employees to reach this state of flexibility ownership, it has to connect to your company culture. 

As our summer reading club author Tracy Brower said:

“Work-life integration isn’t just about flexibility of where and when we work. It’s about the broader culture.”

You need to weave your flexibility policies into your culture if you want to shift your employees’ perceptions. What they hear around the office drives their expectations and behaviors — so changing the conversation (and ultimately reducing guilt and stress) begins with management.

This means defining what flexibility looks like within your culture. Some places allow employees to work from home. Others let them choose their own schedules, ignoring the typical emphasis on 9 to 5.

3 ways to weave flexibility policies into your culture:  

1. Be honest. Ask leaders to be upfront and honest with their flexibility. If you have a culture where people are encouraged to leave at 4pm to make a workout class, have managers put those workouts on their calendars and tell their team where and when they’re going. Employees won’t feel they have to hide or conceal their personal commitments knowing their managers aren’t either. 
 
2. Over communicate. Communication is key to a flexible culture. Your honesty only goes as far as you communicate it. Tell employees when you’re in (and out of) the office and when you’re available (and not), so people will know when to expect a response.
 
3. Give continuous feedback. Instead of annual performance reviews, communicate both positive and negative feedback at regular intervals. This ensures employees are immediately aware of any performance issues — and questions around flexibility are addressed promptly. 

 

Whatever options make sense for your workplace, always create clear policies, monitor productivity and only intervene if there are performance issues. It’s about high performance and engaged employees, not hours spent at office desks. Empower your people to benefit from your flexibility policies — guilt-free.

If you’re looking for a place to start, be sure to check out Tracy Brower’s advice on how to talk to your manager about flexibility