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Work Life Balance and Responsibility

In these days of skills shortages and impending labour shortages many companies are developing flexible work arrangements. Obviously business needs will dictate how flexible a company can be, but in order to attract and retain top talent companies need to figure this out.

What is not often discussed is the responsibility of the employee in these scenarios. For the arrangement to truly work there needs to be a commitment from both employer and employee. If a company is willing to be flexible then the employee needs to offer something back that is more than just "showing up". I have seen situations where it works beautifully and I have seen situations where it is not so "fair".

In positive situations it is clear that the employee truly appreciates the arrangement, and the company does not take advantage either. A trust is established because the company has realistic expectations and the employee delivers to those expectations. When the trust is established it all falls into place. I would deem this to be a win-win for all concerned.

In less positive situations one of the parties feels "hard done by". This is a win-lose scenario and inevitably the arrangement will not work. If a company assumes that by offering some flexibility they can now overwork the individual that is not a good thing. If the employee feels comfortable in pushing the bounds of their flexibility and takes advantage of their employer's generosity then that will not work either.

I think the key is setting realistic expectations and establishing clear and regular communication to ensure the win-win "state" is achieved and maintained. This requires a big commitment from the employee and often that is lost in discussions on this subject.

So ... perhaps the message to those of you who are in such arrangements, or considering them is that you also consider what you are prepared to give back to make it work!