4 Practices on Flexible Work Policies and Cultures (Blog Post)
For many organizations, working flexibly is no longer a bonus—it’s a business imperative. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many managers and employees are facing personal challenges even while they find themselves working from home for the first time.
At Catalyst, we know from research and experience that flexibility with when, where, and how work gets done is integral to inclusive leadership and work cultures. We’ve developed practices for Supporters to enable them to implement leading strategies for flex work. Here are four examples for Supporters only that offer concrete ideas, practices, and policies on flex work.
In the early 2000s, flexible working was not common at Catalyst. But when the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks took place in lower Manhattan, Catalyst’s headquarters were inaccessible for several weeks. A regional power outage in 2003 later caused interference with staff work. Catalyst knew it needed to prepare employees for future disruptions.
This practice shows how we transformed our culture through technology, training, and hiring practices. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, and our New York headquarters were forced to close, most Catalyst employees were able to continue their work from home without business consequences. The same has been true during the current pandemic.
Writing up a flex policy isn’t enough. After Telstra implemented its flex policy in 2010, it noticed that policies weren’t used consistently. Many managers had negative preconceptions and did not fully embrace flexibility. Even more troubling, turnover of women employees was high.
This practice dives into how Telstra developed and implemented a new approach that ensured flexibility was the norm, not an exception. The results: The company achieved higher retention of women employees, increased use of flex by men employees, and boosted employee satisfaction.
How can employers best support parents with young children? That was the question facing The adidas Group. The company employs a young workforce: Globally, its average employee is 30 years old. Many have children. This practice describes how the company’s Work-Life Integration team developed a suite of flexible work policies to specifically address parents’ needs. The policies focus on real-life challenges such as babysitter cancellations and school holidays. Equally important: The company does not limit participation to parents or those with childcare responsibilities.
One of this year’s Catalyst Award Winners, Deloitte Australia sought to increase the recruitment, retention, development, and advancement of women at all levels. One challenge was to address the long hours and travel that can make a consulting career challenging for everyone, including women. Part of the solution was to launch the Deloitte Flex program, which offers different types of flex policies, depending on need.
This practice explores the multiple strategies—including Deloitte Flex—that Deloitte Australia employed as part of their Catalyst Award-winning initiative Inspiring Women. From 2015 to 2019, the representation of women on Deloitte Australia’s National Executive Team increased by 23 percentage points, and the percentage of women partners at the firm increased from 22% to 30%.