Anna Meller has spent the last 20 years making work-life integration her business. A successful consultant, thought leader, researcher and author, Anna’s accessible approach is both evidence based and pragmatic.
My discussion replies
The employer's response does seem short-sighted, particularly if the result could be the loss of skills the organisation has spent 20 years building up. Rapid refusals such as this are often made under pressure so a creative solutions approach may be worth a try.
Would a job-share help? This would involve recruiting someone else to do the other half of the job, but when managed successfully the benefits of a share outweigh any initial costs. As your friend is already in post he could offer to manage the recruitment process and the induction of the sharer.
This website may be useful: http://www.flexworks-uk.com/
Hi Andy, one of the best I've come across are Courtenay who are in Central London so will cover Croydon. I'm not sure if they will be able to "look at your situation creatively" in the current market where it seems lots of HR people are looking for work.
As you're in sales at present, could you consider moving to a reputable recruitment cohnsultancy yourself and use this as a stepping stone to a recruitment role inside an organisation? I've come across several people who've made it into HR in this way.
Best of luck.
I believe there's a difference between focusing on work outputs and measuring hours spent at the office or "working" elsewhere. Where outputs are clear, not only do people become more productive, but they can also make informed decisions about the way they structure their work and non-work activities. So I guess my question would be: "What do we need to do to get people to focus on the outputs of their efforts, rather than the number of hours they spend on them?" or perhaps "How do we shift our cultural attitudes to value the outputs people produce rather than the number of hours they devote to 'work'?"
I'm no legal expert, but I would imagine the short answer is it depends on the sickness and whether working exacerbates this. So, if someone is suffering from stress or exhaustion it's probably not a good idea, but if someone has, for example, twisted an ankle which makes it difficult to commute to work then doing the work at home where possible makes sense.
My own research has also revealed that people sometimes call in sick when they need to address other domestic issues, such as caring for a relative at short notice, or taking delivery of a purchase or service. In these pressured economic times it will be seen as legitimate to be sick, but not to ask for time off for personal reasons. Where there's a suspicion this may be the case a supportive approach to flexible working can help.
Coincidentally I was thinking about this same topic on my way to a meeting earlier and came up with four ideas that harness existing HR trends:
1. Encourage more home/remote working where possible. It's important to agree tangible outputs and to remember your Health & Safety obligations, but the benefits accrue both to employer and employee. Employers can save on premises costs and overheads such as heating and lighting, employees save on travel time and costs.
2. Consider requests for reduced hours working. A number of your employees may welcome the opportunity to adjust their work-life balance while still retaining the security of a job. Furthermore, in most jobs there are discretionary activities which can be eliminated or automated. With a bit of creativity, an employee can reduce his workload and still deliver on key objectives.
3. Move to flexible benefits. Many employers offer costly packages of fixed benefits which are out of line with employee lifestyles. Allowing people to pick and choose will make you more popular while proving cost effective.
4. Consider hiring interims or specialist freelancers. This may appear counter-intuitive, but good interims and other freelancers are highly trained, able to hit the ground running and likely to deliver more with less in a shorter timescale. Rather than relying on traditional temps or overtime, this approach could again be cost-effective.
I hope this generates some ideas for you.
Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion, but if this lady is grown up enough to be in charge of children then I believe she deserves respect in being able to make her own choices about when to take them on holiday. The vast majority of parents are very responsible towards their children and their children's education and she may have a very good reason for her actions.
I find your question ironic as I often work with employers who complain that too many members of staff want time off during school holidays. Here's someone who's avoiding that and you're still questioning whether she should go!
The fact that you have offered some flexibility suggests the job can be done flexibly and I would advise you to keep negotiating, particularly as this is a female and the issue is about child care.
Could you offer a job share and recruit someone else to do the other two days? Or could you help with the childcare costs - by offering childcare vouchers - so that the lady in question can work more days?