Asking for a flexible work arrangement in Australia can be daunting. Lean the best practice for having the conversation.
Having a flexible work arrangement is possible if you approach it the right way.
Today, women demand more flexibility than traditional 9-5 workplaces provide. And, in recent years the way we approach work has shifted.
Technology helps us stay connected so we can virtually work from anywhere if our job lends itself to it. But there are still many companies yet to catch up with modern work practices.
Many women feel frustrated, unable to keep up with conflicting demands of a busy home and work life. Stuck. Not knowing what to do, what’s available to them or how to ask. Often leaving the workforce all together, because it’s easier than asking.
Being out of the workforce is one of the reasons our super balances are lower than men. So, to help we’re giving you some tips on how talk about a flexible work arrangement with your boss. You’ll be able to go into your meeting armed with all the facts and position a win-win scenario for all.
Here’s how you can approach the idea of a flexible working arrangement with your boss. For many of us the thought of approaching the boss with a plan for a more flexible working arrangement fills us with dread. And we’d go any lengths to avoid it.
“I know many women who couldn’t bear the thought of having this type of conversation. So much so, they quit over having to negotiate better conditions that suit their life. But what they don’t realise is that many employers would rather have the chance to have a conversation and keep you than lose you all together”. - Rachel, Fairvine
It doesn’t help that there’s also confusion about what flexible working actually means.
Here are the options you can explore.
The time you spend at work
- reduced hours
- compressed week (for example, 9 day fortnight)
- split shifts
- flexible, autonomy in start and finish times
Where you work
- working from home
- working from another location
- remote work aided by technology
- purchased leave program
- phased retirement
- annualised hours
- job sharing
“I know many women who couldn’t bear the thought of having this type of conversation. So much so, they quit over having to negotiate better conditions that suit their life. But what they don’t realise is that many employers would rather have the chance to have a conversation and keep you than lose you all together.”
To help you kickstart your own flexible work conversations we’ve put together this easy to follow guide.
STEP 1. BE CLEAR ON WHY
When you’re clear about why you want flexible working hours it can make it easier to have the courage to ask.
STEP 2. DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT
There’s many ways to approach flexible working so it’s up to you to lead the conversation towards the outcome you’re looking for.
Consider the options above and what will work best for your situation and aspirations for your career.
STEP 3: UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT TO YOUR WORKPLACE
It’s easy to get so caught up in what we want, that we neglect to think of the impact on those around us.
You’ll have a better chance of negotiating what you need if you’ve thought about it from your employer’s perspective too. Creating a win-win situation for all is the optimal outcome.
To be clear on what you’re asking of your company answer these questions.
• How will the work you do be impacted?
• Do you have the right technology in place to support you?
• Do you need to change work practices to accommodate you?
• Will any team members be affected?
• Can someone else pick up work?
• Will there be any impact to customers?
• Is there any financial impact to the company?
• What can you do to minimise impact?
STEP 4: PREPARE FOR THE CONVERSATION
The key to a successful negotiation is preparation. So, before you get in front of your boss have a clear idea of what may happen in the conversation and how you’ll handle it. Work out how you want to frame the conversation or appointment with your boss. For example, "I’d like to set up a meeting to talk about flexible working arrangements and how it could work for my role."
Be ready for objections
What will your boss be worried about? List as many things as you can think of and how you could overcome them. Show how it will work.
Help your boss see how this will work in practice.
Know your negotiation points
What is the next best scenario to what you want?
Could you offer a trial period for all of you?
How will you react if they say no?
In some cases, your company might not be able to accommodate your request. What will you do if they say no?
How will you respond? It’s important to think this through so you can keep your answer professional.
Where to next?
If your conversation doesn’t go as planned there are Government agencies who may be able to help or guide you.
Fairwork Australia https://www.fairwork.gov.au/