One issue for many job seekers is landing an opportunity offering “flexibility,” “balance,” or, what consultant,Ã‚Â Cali Williams Yost, CEO and Founder of Flex Strategy Group and author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You, would call “work-life fit.”
Today, I’m happy to share research Cali sent me from from the 2011 Work+Life Fit™ Reality Check Survey. It illustrates that, “Work life flexibility is no longer a bright, shiny, novelty item that only a few people have.Ã‚Â In fact, most full-time employees have some form of work life flexibility and they are much less afraid to use it than they were five years ago.”
The following tips are directly from survey findings to help you get the most out of the work life flexibility that’s become a foundational part of the way we live and work:
Tip 1: Don’t let too much work and too little time keep you from work life flexibility, instead use that flexibility strategically to get your work done and have a life. When asked, respondents ranked “increased workload or no time for flexibility” as the top obstacle (29%) that kept them from using or improving their work life flexibility.Ã‚Â Looked at another way, flexibility could also be the key to managing that greater workload and having more time for the other parts of your life.Ã‚Â A periodic shift in hours, or working from home now and then could restore a sense of productivity and well-being.Ã‚Â Be creative.
Tip 2: Remember that work life flexibility comes in many forms.Ã‚Â It includes both day-to-day, informal ad hoc shifts in how, when and where you work, as well as formal plans that officially change your work+life fit. Even though 62% of respondents said they had some type of day-to-day, ad hoc flexibility, it’s easy to take it for granted as a given.Ã‚Â Use it thoughtfully and strategically to manage the way work fits into your life every day. If you are interested in more formal plan, learn ahead of time how to present a proposal that’s a win for you and the business.
Tip 3:Ã‚Â To make informal, day-to-day flexibility a success for you, your team and the business, make sure to communicate and coordinate with all of the key stakeholders, not just your supervisor. According to the survey, when respondents made occasional changes in how, when and where they work, they discussed those changes with:
- 79% their supervisor
- 63% their spouse, family or partner
- 52% their colleagues
- 45% those they supervise, and
- 7% no one.
You don’t need to tell your colleagues and those you supervise why you are using flexibility, but let them know how the work will get done and how they can reach you if needed.
Tip 4: Challenge any lingering fears that may be keeping you from using or improving your work life flexibility. Make sure any fear or concern is based on fact, not invalid assumptions.Ã‚Â The good news is that individuals are much less likely to let fear or negative perceptions keep them from using or improving their flexibility than they were in 2006:
- You might make less money:Ã‚Â 21% in 2011 versus 45% in 2006
- You might lose your job:Ã‚Â 16% in 2011 versus 28% in 2006
- Others will think you don’t work hard:Ã‚Â 11% in 2011 versus 39% in 2006
- You worry that your boss wouldÃ‚Â say “no”:Ã‚Â 13% in 2011 versus 32% in 2006
However, obviously some fears and concerns linger.Ã‚Â Learn about the compensation policy related to flexibility where you aren’t working less, just differently.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Understand the employment climate in your organization.Ã‚Â Make sure you continue to work hard, communicate and coordinate well (see Tip 3) and learn how to present a flexibility plan that’s a win-win and hard to turn down.
Tip 5: Understand that work life flexibility is more than a perk, or benefit.Ã‚Â It’s a strategy that your employer can use to “retain talent, manage workload and grow.”Ã‚Â And without it, the business will suffer particularly in the areas of health/wellness, morale and productivity.Ã‚Â One of the surprising findings for the 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check is how many respondents either think work life flexibility is a “perk or benefit” (36%) or “don’t know” what it is (14%).Ã‚Â Just as work life flexibility can help you strategically manage your workload and resources, it can also benefit the business in other areas.Ã‚Â Specifically, a majority of respondents (66%) felt that without work life flexibility health (48%), morale (41%) and productivity (36%) would suffer.
For more details and to download the study, visit Work Life Fit Tips.
You may also want to read a study addressing the issue of inevitability of work-life flex, Findings from the Flexpaths – LinkedIn study.
photo by ellajphillips