Let’s Be Flexible!

By Phil Gérard

Summer is officially here and I thought this might be a good time to talk about work-life balance and flexibility as part of total compensation.

Total compensation is the whole package. It includes not only salary and benefits but also other non-monetary incentives such as flexibility. In my early days as a fundraiser there was a bit of a stigma with flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting (working remotely, i.e. from home) or flex days (also called nine-day fortnight) where essentially, employees work extra time every day and enjoy a day off every other week. Fundraising is a competitive environment and asking for flexible work hours or telecommuting would have then been seen as taking a step back, not being as committed to performing at a top-level.

As recruiter, I work with different clients from diverse sectors and I am noticing a change. I always ask my clients what kinds of benefits and incentives they offer. I am noticing that many of my clients are offering flex days today. This is offered not only to supporting staff but also to frontline fundraisers. I am also seeing other interesting programs such as summer hours, where offices close half an hour earlier in the summer months or completely on Fridays.

The key for success with flexibility is that senior administration embraces it as part of the organization’s culture and offers it to all. They need to set a sign that it is ok to have work-life-balance, of course as long as performance is at an excellent level.

It is also important to note that flexibility needs to be individualized. Not everything works for everybody. Flex days are not an incentive for all. Some people like normal work hours but prefer working every day. Others love working a day a week from home while others prefer to work in the office.

Flexibility plays an important part in recruitment as well as retention. Some organizations can simply not be as competitive in compensation as the big shops. A flexible work environment can help organizations attract top talent and keep it.

I believe it will be increasingly important for organizations, especially those who have been less open to flexibility as part of total compensation, to review their approaches in this competitive job market.


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