a. Purpose and programme design
Be clear about what you want to achieve at company, leadership and individual employee levels. Do you want to increase engagement and productivity, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, increase retention, attract quality employees and staff motivation, achieve better overall organisation ‘health’ and culture, increase revenue? If objectives are laid out at the start, success and milestones can be measured accurately.
Keep asking your employees for their views. Ask them to think about, discuss and record how they will increase their own individual productivity and their team’s productivity. This can lead onto wider discussions about what productivity actually looks like – be prepared to spend time on this for employees and managers. For leaders and managers, this is the opportunity to take an inclusive leadership role, of committing to the initiative, guiding, supporting and coaching their teams. This engagement will build trust and have multiple benefits beyond performance – at the simplest level, this will enhance the enjoyment of workers’ jobs.
Consider how your company values work as the foundation for behaviours. Consider the impact upon the diverse workforce – for example, part-time employees, different generations of employees etc.
When energised and excited and empowered, employees can come up with some truly great ideas relating to business process improvement. Be clear about what you can achieve (i.e. What is your budget for projects and business improvement and what is your timeline?) and don’t be afraid to park some ideas for implementation at a later stage if the project requires further input, thought and resources.
Prepare useful guides and frequently asked questions for managers and employees that outline as many scenarios and areas that require clarity as possible. Avoid being too prescriptive; instead aim to build practical guides according to a governing philosophy and intent.
Recognise that at times, there might be factors (e.g. seasons) that influence work patterns (e.g. end-of-year financial reporting is an especially hectic time). Planning for this – perhaps ‘parking’ some aspects when all employees are needed (‘all hands-on deck’) – can facilitate understanding and engagement, with managers and workers understanding there are pressure time periods that simply need to be managed differently.
Is everyone okay? Change can be stressful for some and even an initiative that has the opportunity to have such upside can also provide stress points. Ensure that your people have a variety of people to talk to if they have any concerns, wish to discuss the initiative or are feeling under pressure.
c. Employment and people factors
Look for ways to minimise legal risk, for example by setting up a trial. This allows potential kinks in a flexibility policy to be ironed out while not committing the company to expensive or lengthy legal work upfront. HR practitioners should look at a flexible-work opportunity initially with a company-focussed, strategic lens rather than from an HR/process/legislative viewpoint (consider the big picture first).
HR practitioners should also know the employment framework and company policies. At the end of the day, you can’t do anything illegal or if your employment policies state something you need to do it.
Ensure that key stakeholders are satisfied with the robustness of the initiative – have all the checks and balances (customer, legal, compliance, regulatory etc.) been considered?
d. Team structures
The results of the Perpetual Guardian trial showed employees were ready to embrace change – empowering teams to be actively involved in the set-up and review of the trial and trusting employees to consider the possible impacts upon customer service and others around them. A key to success is empowering staff to come up with solutions under the guidance and coaching of leaders.
The team structure also suits the Four-Day Week especially well, providing innate cover for when employees are having their day off. Understand that teams can also be a powerful force for understanding work processes and improving them.