How to manage flexible workers: The lessons you need to learn
Flexible workers perform many functions: meeting increased demand for services during periods of fluctuation, filling gaps throughout recruitment drives or taking on permanent roles that allow for more fluid structures.
Through the course of hiring and managing them, three key points have been highlighted which can, and should be, applied to all employees.
- Look who’s talking
With 86% of workplace failures blamed on a lack of communication, its power should never be underestimated. When it comes to managing flexible workers, there are two key parts to any communication strategy and a successful business could not function without both:
- Communication between management and flexible workers; and
- Communication between the non-flexible and flexible workers
With flexible working becoming more commonplace, the employee experience is changing from a typically face-to-face interaction to more digital and telecommunications based one. As a manager, you need to ensure the connection with your team reflects this and that where necessary, different, and often creative ways are found to maintain engagement. This is particularly prudent when companies that have engaged employees outperform companies that don’t by 202%.
Platforms such as Slack, Trello and Google Hangout allow for worthwhile team collaboration without the need for everyone to be in one place and not at the expense of bouncing ideas off one another, meeting new people and getting feedback. Incorporating these systems early-on when moving towards increased flexible working structures means everyone will be on the same page when it comes to business culture, practice and objectives.
2. Not-so-great expectations
Another major pitfall experienced by flexible workers is employers expecting too much. Trying get more out of them than originally agreed and/or changing the schedule at the last minute can affect things like child care or in the case of freelancers, other projects.
When this happens once or twice, it can be handled and most flexible workers will be willing to get involved and pick up extra work when necessary. However, continual plan-adjustments or ever-increasing pressure for them to produce more than is possible in their allocated working hours just promotes stress and lowers morale. The same applies to non-flexible workers.
Saving costs and growing profit is the bottom line for most businesses, but the long-game is often ignored in favour of short-term gains. Working your employees too hard may improve interim productivity, but it eventually leads to burnout which is responsible for high employee turnover and an increase in costs through rehiring and retraining. Employers often don’t realise that people value work/life balance and non-monetary benefits over pay.
So, be realistic about output, give all employees some control over how they manage their workloads (allowing room for discussing the balance if not working) and offer rewards and recognition i.e time in lieu for when employees have gone above and beyond. We guarantee it will leave you with a loyal and committed workforce, which will turn into profit.
3. All together now
Flexible employees, whether working part-time and / or remotely, are equally valid members of any team and should be made to feel that way. It therefore shouldn’t be all work and no play.
The ‘fear of missing out’ can also be felt more deeply by the agile demographic as it’s harder for them to respond to spontaneous ‘after work’ drinks invites, especially if they are keeping different hours. Group events and socials should be planned in advance so that it’s clear to everyone that team dynamics / bonding is being prioritised by management and that remote employees are as valued members of the company workforce as those who occupy a desk space Monday to Friday.
Need a brilliant manager or want to discuss how flexible working can work for your business? Get in touch: email@example.com