Why “flex” is the future for SMEs

Flexible work is now considered more important than a pay increase for senior women.

Without a doubt, flexibility is driving so many changes aligned to the future of the work and understanding how to design your workforce around the right flexibility policies can deliver competitive advantage, greater productivity and ensure you attract and retain top talent.

There’s one “but”. Flexibility has to be done right.

For larger organisations, the challenge is often in translating the policies into action. For smaller and mid-sized businesses, flexibility can deliver great benefits and ensure you attract and retain the best talent in the market. However, roles must be designed around flexibility and employees must work towards very clear, outcome focused deliverables.

Australia’s Fair Work Act states that Australian employees have a legal right to ask for flexible working arrangements. However, only 54 per cent of SMEs are offering flexible work. Why?

Most SMEs think flexibility requires extra work to coordinate and impacts on the ability of team members to collaborate. Some business owners also feel they need coverage and accountability and they fear flexible work exposes them to gaps in the week and find it hard to keep track of who is delivering what.

As someone who works with organisations to deliver flexible solutions every day, these barriers to flex in the world of SME’s are quite ironic. Many founders and business owners go into business because they want to be in control of their own destiny and they want the flexibility in how and when they work.

Designing roles with flex will enable you to attract better talent. It will improve your retention rates and it will increase your productivity if you design your business the right way.

Flexible work comes in so many formats and it’s important to ensure you offer the flexible options to suit your business and your market. Staffing an SME is probably up there with cashflow management as one of the most stressful elements of running a business.

Offering flexibility will enable you to attract better and more qualified employees. If you’re finding it hard to attract good people, consider expanding your offering around flexible work and you will be surprised at how your talent pool will immediately be elevated.

The future of work is most certainly flex and SMEs are better placed than any large organisation to truly take advantage of the growing talent pool in Australia seeking part-time, job share, contract or full-time flex arrangements.

Lija Wilson, CEO and Co-Founder, Puffling

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