Blog Archive

Friday, January 8, 2010

Work-Life Flexibility and the Right Expectations

***Today's post comes to us from Teresa Hopke, Sr. Director of Talent Management at McGladrey and our in-house work-life flexibility guru. Teresa shares her thoughts below on what work-life flexibility really means at McGladrey and for our employees. Teresa is now taking advantage of some of our work-life benefits herself as we are all celebrating the recent birth of her new baby boy!***

Here we are, that time of year where flexibility becomes the life saver that helps keep our busy employees afloat as they juggle the many competing demands of their work lives and their home lives. We are also entering the time of year where we as a business have the highest client demand and expectations from our employees. So how can a company with such high expectations where employees are expected to work unthinkable workloads week after week espouse to be a "flexible" organization? It’s all about setting up the right expectations around a culture of flexibility.

At McGladrey I can confidently say that we have indeed created a culture of WorkLife Flexibility that works for our business and our employees. What is important about that statement is to understand what’s behind the words flexibility and WorkLife – what they do and do not mean to us as a firm. Flexibility to us is not about balance. We know that life is never an exact 50/50 split between work and personal priorities and we would never expect it to be. It is about integrating the many facets of one’s life to make things work the best they can at any given point in time. Sometimes that will mean we need to give more to work and sometimes that means we will need to give more to our personal priorities. Most often though it does not mean that we will juggle both equally and for most of us that is OK.

Flexibility also does not necessarily mean working less. The great news is that when we asked our employees what flexibility means to them they told us they same thing – they don’t expect to work less. What they do think flexibility means is having more control over where, when and how they do their work – both formally and informally. Pretty reasonable request right? When flexibility becomes viewed as a way to give employees more control over their personal and professional lives and a strategic tool for doing so while still meeting business needs, then some of the typical fear and anxiety that the term often carries along with it begin to fade away. Additionally, a culture of WorkLife Flexibility includes more than just flexible ways of working. It is about creating support mechanisms for that meet our employees’ needs as they differ throughout different times of the year and throughout different life stages of the employee. So while it may not work well for some employees to work a flexible schedule during busy season, those employees may find great value in utilizing our Extended Care Cash, Coach-on-Call or Concierge programs to help them have more control over their lives. And in the end a little more control is all most of us are really looking for to help us feel like we are succeeding.

So in short, we’ve created a culture at McGladrey where flexibility isn’t something to be feared by managers or longed for by employees, it is a way of working that allows our employees to achieve the personal and professional success they desire. To us, flexibility isn't an accommodation or gift we give our employees to make them feel better. It is a business tool that we use to ensure that we are empowering our employees to meet the needs of their clients in a way that benefits the firm, the employee and the client. We have clear expectations around how flexibility should work that we communicate through our Declaration of Flexibility and expect that it is set up as a two-way street where both employees and the firm can achieve great results as a by-product of living a culture of flexibility. We are proud to empower our employees and contribute to their success by making it part of the fabric of our business model at McGladrey and an integral part of who we are.

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