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Trust Your Employees and Make Flex Schedules Work

by Nicole Hayward

Trust your employees to make flex schedules work!

This blog is by Rob, President of Junction Networks Sometimes, as a manager/owner of a business, it's not so obvious that what works for me may not be understood by others. In my case, being flexible and sensitive to work/life balance is just a part of who I am. However, I've come across many managers, bosses, owners, etc. who take a "it's my way or the highway' management approach as Cali Yost points out in a Fast Company blog. Here is a typical case scenario Yost describes:

"You have a highly valued, competent current or prospective employee... They have a track record of success... Said employee presents a well-thought out proposal for flexibility... the response was, 'No.' The initial reason given was, 'I need you here.' Then the [employee] respectfully asked if there were any business concerns that made their plans unworkable. None of the decision-makers could cite a business-based rationale for their answer. All they said was, 'It just doesn’t work for me.'"

Well, this doesn't work for me. It's been 11 years since the Census Bureau reported for the first time, that American families with 2 working parents were in the majority. If you are hiring/managing employees and you haven't caught on yet that people are juggling a lot these days, you are a tad behind. Yes, the unemployment rate is high, and there are many people available to work. But, if you ask business owners, they'll tell you hiring, training, and retaining highly capable employees remains one of the most challenging tasks. For most organizations, people are the most important assets. Junction Networks is no exception. Our people are smart, highly motivated, engaged, and truly interested in the success of our company. Allowing people people to get their work done without hovering over them is a key factor in getting a lot done with a small team.

"I have seen this same scenario play out over the years more times than I can count. To these managers, their logic makes complete sense (at least at the moment): If I just say, ' it doesn’t work for me,' then everything will go back to the way it was. Everyone will forget about any flexibility. I don’t want change. I like things exactly the way they are right now. It works for me as it is. ...Unfortunately, that’s usually not what happens. Note to managers: just because you will it, doesn’t make it so. Fair warning, you will lose," says Yost.

This is true. When managers lack flexibility and openness to things like working from home, flexible hours, etc, it can be received as a lack of respect and trust for an employee. And, it will likely cause a complete breakdown in the manager-employee relationship. For a moment, walk in the shoes of a working parent with a child that needs someone at home on Fridays through the summer. You approach your manager with the idea that you will work late Monday through Thursday and come in Saturday mornings in exchange for Fridays at home. Your manager hardly waits for you to finish your pitch before declaring, "No, you need to be here". Now, your thinking "I've already put in countless late nights and weekends and this is the thanks I get?" Here's what will follow: Employee dusts off resume. Employee walks out the door daily as the clock strikes 5 PM. Employee calls in sick often. Employee produces less. Employee tells coworkers that you are an ass who couldn't care less about them. Employee quits. Instead of saying, "No, you need to be here," the manager might as well say "No. If I can't see you, I don't trust you to work." Don't expect great contributions from employees if you don't respect and trust them! Oh, and BTW, if your employee needs to work from home, for free, you can add a home phone to your OnSIP account. The phone will work exactly the same way at home as it does in the office. Had to slip that in. Hey, it works for us.

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