May 15, 2013
Workplace flexibility is often cited as a tool to improve employee engagement, especially with the younger generation. But flexibility is not just whether someone works from home or flexible hours. It’s a management style that can help you develop employees. As a manager you must provide conditions where people can support themselves with structure, training, and resources wherever they are working. The manager must also engage and provide guidance but not too much as to interfere but just enough so the employee learns.
Actively listen to them and don’t be afraid to tell ‘em like it is – straight. Flexibility works for a business only when it improves productivity and the bottom line. Be flexible in areas where you can flex; but be firm in areas where you must be firm. After all, it’s an employee’s job to accommodate the ways of his or her employer or move on.
What’s more, as savvy managers will tell you, younger employees welcome the definition of roles and responsibilities. It provides structure they need to use to succeed. It also helps define for them what workplace flexibility means to you, their manager, and to their workplace. Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Tell them what they need to hear. Pulling punches does no one favors.
Make no mistake: managers do not make their living by dispensing advice but they do earn their keep, as well as the loyalty of their employees, when they do step up and provide feedback and insight employees need to grow and develop themselves.
Provide workplace flexibility, but do it within defined structure so the employee knows what you expect.