Top Ten Tips for Supervisors
(Do not hesitate to contact the URI Work-Life Committee for more information, or to schedule a workshop.)
- Familiarize yourself with URI’s and any relevant union contract’s flexible work options policies. Think creatively about what might be allowable within those parameters.
- Be open to considering formal flexible work arrangements, while still getting the job done and the goals met of the unit, division, or department. While unusual or emergency circumstances sometimes arise requiring unique consideration, the needs of the institution should normally remain primary.
- Review current flexibility practices in your unit/department. It is likely that flexibility in some form already exists in an informal, or case-by-case, basis. To avoid employee resentment, bias, or preferential treatment, think of ways to formalize and broadly communicate options and practices.
- COMMUNICATE with your employees why flexibility is important to URI, what is available as options, where employees can find more information, how to make a request for a flexible work accomodation, what the challenges and limitations are, how to provide input and ideas, etc. (Please contact the URI Work-Life Committee for assistance.)
- Remember that work-life balance includes life AT work, as well as balancing life AND work. Cultivating a work culture that supports professional and personal growth on the job is highly valued by employees, promoting job satisfaction, engagement, productivity, retention, and other positive employment indicators. Small, no- or low-cost initiatives can reap big rewards.
- Do not assume that your priorities are your employees’ priorities. Life-styles vary, generational expectations vary. Be open-minded and non-judgmental about the reasons people need some kind of alternative work arrangement. Be sure what flexibility is available to employees is actually what they need. Ask them!
- Walk the talk. Set clear expectations about job requirements, and then trust your employees to manage their work and schedules to meet job expectations. Establish a results-oriented evaluation system, where goal-acheivement is the measure of success rather than “face-time.” Build trust, empowerment, and accountability.
- Create a “culture of coverage.” Encourage collaboration, collegiality, and team spirit where co-workers are willing to support one another, fill-in, and help get the work done when work-life challenges occur for an employee. Support the idea that “what goes around comes around.”
- Work toward abolishing “presenteeism.” Employees who are compelled to come to work sick, stressed, resentful, or preoccupied by demanding life or family circumstances are NOT productive employees.
- Consider piloting a flexible work arrangement initiative to see if it will be effective in meeting institutional and the personal needs of your employees. Ask employees what they need most and pilot something. Importantly, monitor and measure the effectiveness of any initiative.
Thanks to “Tips for Creating a Flexible Work Environment” from Corporate Voices for Working Families for contributions to this list.