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Implementing flexibility: resources for People and Culture teams

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Your agency’s CEO is responsible for ensuring the policy commitment is met but understanding what that looks like in your agency’s unique operating context can be challenging, and typically requires support from People and Culture teams.

Working with the sector, the PSC has developed a large range of resources to help you. These support implementation, revise policy, build capability and support cultural change, and how to monitor and evaluate your efforts.

  • As teams gradually return to their workplaces, as either a home/office hybrid, or some other combination entirely, you may be receiving feedback from managers in your cohort wondering how to manage the 'flexibility genie' now it's out of the bottle. How can they 'build back better' to take advantage over what we've all learned, but devise a sustainable plan that continues to meet or improve on business and team outcomes?

    Our businesses now have an unprecedented opportunity to consider:

    • how we worked over this period
    • what we learned (about our work, our teams and ourselves)
    • what we might want to change permanently, and what we might need to keep improving

    How can we go from just 'keeping the lights on' to finding something sustainable?

    The PSC has looked to its evidence base from our successful flexibility pilots across the sector and a diversity of workplaces and roles, to devise a toolkit for managers needing to have this planning conversation with their team. We have developed a workshop managers can run with their teams. The workshop helps them to make the most of lessons learned, but keep that focus on delivering outcomes. Whatever pace or pattern workforces return to the workplace in, and however they do that, managers having this discussion is a great opportunity for teams to design their ‘new normal’ way of working. Our expectations of flexibility have changed permanently, but our focus on outcomes has not - this workshop helps managers and their teams find the balance.

    Produced as a toolkit, it contains a series of simple templates to structure a discussion and devise a plan, as a team. It will help managers plan, communicate and set up the workshop and gives them all they need to prompt useful discussion and form a plan in it, as well as a slide deck if they want to use that in support. The structure also allows you, as HR business partners or Org Dev specialists to facilitate this workshop for them.

    It provides the opportunity to discuss with teams how they have been working over the period of COVID-19 restrictions, and to decide how they want to work in the future to support the organisation and team, yet preserve some of the current flexibility and productivity. From a team’s perspective, our evidence is that this approach builds a shared sense of ownership, responsibility and accountability by co-designing their ‘new normal’, and the opportunity to re-think where, when, how and by whom the team’s outcomes are achieved.

    If you have any questions about the toolkit and running the 'Helping your team design a new normal: Build Back Better workshop' please email the flexible working team

  • If your agency is starting to implement flexible working, or you’d like advice on progressing the next stage, here is a best-practice guide on how to implement flexible working, Make Flexibility Happen. It’s based on what we’ve seen work well across the public and private sectors, and the evidence base in the literature.

    If you need to first engage your leadership and build support for your program of work, here are two workshops you can run in a leadership meeting:

    Driving the change: We’ve also developed a set of change playbooks to help you drive change in your agency’s culture, awareness, capability, workforce management and ICT systems.  These guides can be customised into a bespoke playbook for your agency.

    And the Flexibility Implementation Tracker will help your agency to gauge where it is at now, and what it needs to change to embed flexible working into everyday working.

  • If you’re revising your agency’s policy on flexible working, here is our guidance on what to include in a flexible working policy, including a sample policy and draft forms and checklists you can include.

    We’ve also summarised the different types of flexible working that could be relevant in your agency, depending on its context and current industrial instruments.

  • Building capability in flexible working is one of the tougher challenges, so we have a number of resources here to save you needing to develop your own:

    • Start with your own skill set, and those of your People and Culture peers at the forefront of this implementation. Here is a self-assessment you can use to test HR/recruitment knowledge and skills in flexible working as you prepare to embed flexible working.  There are also accompanying self-paced development guide if you find you want to grow your capability in a given area.
    • If you do need to provide training to build employee and manager capability, here is a sample workshop templates and facilitator guide. The focus of these is very practical around raising awareness of roles and responsibilities, and building skills in working effectively in or leading a flexible team.
    • Conversation guides for managers and employees are a helpful resource to provide as well
    • Finally, here is a toolkit for trialling flexible working. It’s aimed at line managers, but is a great resource for any agency seeking to introduce flexible working and trial it in an operationally safe way. There’s also a communications pack you can use to promote this in your agency.
  • Here’s a communications toolkit you can request access to, with a suggested whole of agency strategy for flexible working, branding, artwork for collateral and key messages, to raise awareness about flexible working.

    It’s also useful to use some of the research the PSC has done to understand current perceptions of flexible working in our sector, as your communications and cultural change initiatives will need to shift or leverage some of these. Here are some personas we developed that give you an insight into the fears, concerns and dilemmas many employees and managers currently face, and how to resolve these.

    We’ve also captured some of these misgivings into a short Q & A format you can use to tailor leadership messaging about flexible working.

    And we’ve prepared some case studies of other organisations working flexibly across the public and private sector, as sharing these can help a lot to persuade people to give it a try, and inform your own efforts.

    If you’re concerned about how best to communicate with managers, and encourage them to explore more for themselves, we undertook a behavioural insights trial with the BI Unit in Customer, and here are the results.

  • Job share is a full-time role undertaken by two or more employees. Each employee is paid and earns leave entitlements proportionate to the part of the role they complete. They can be at the same level or paired vertically.

    The NSW Government supports job share because it has so many benefits. For employees, it unlocks access to quality part-time work and career opportunities, while your days off are genuine days off. For employers, it creates a larger potential pool of talent, doubles access to skills and knowledge, provides full coverage in a role and increases productivity.

    As a sector, it can help us to achieve our goal of looking like the community we serve by broadening the workforce participation opportunities available.

    If your agency is keen to better support job share, we have a guide for you that will help People and Culture professionals to support the recruitment, management and development of job share. There’s also guides available for employees, managers and leaders, and a planning tool for job sharers to plan their arrangement.

    We’ve also prepared some trouble-shooting videos you can post on your Intranet to help managers better understand job share, and a set of case studies of high-profile job share pairs working across the sector in a variety of roles and agencies.

    There’s also a communications toolkit and videos you can use to promote it in your agency.

    The PSC piloted a job share matching platform until June 2020, to make it easier for people interested in job share to find out more, meet other potential job sharers and see applicable roles advertised. It links potential job sharers with each other and provides them with some insight into their potential compatibility or areas they may need to work on. It also hosts resources for managers, HR teams and agency leaders on how to support and enable job share.

    The following agencies participated in this pilot (note, titles do not reflect Machinery of Government changes announced in April 2019):

    • Customer Service cluster
    • Family and Community Services, Stronger Communities
    • Industry, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
    • Department of Premier and Cabinet
    • Public Service Commission
    • Roads and Maritime Services, Transport for NSW
    • Education (corporate division)
    • Treasury

    We’ve now worked with participating agencies, participants and examined our data to evaluate its effectiveness . The evidence is that it has made it easier for people to learn more about job share and plan an arrangement, and there has been an increase in job share in each of the agencies participating. Ongoing work is required in agencies, however, to ensure a culture supportive of job share continues to be built. Read the full report.

    All NSW government sector employees can seek a job share. Use the resources freely above to champion job hare further in your agency, given its role as a key enabler of diversity through unlocking varied workforce participation.

  • Recruitment is a key component to build a flexible workforce. Our commitment to flexible working, and the options available, need to be clearly communicated to prospective public sector employees. Research shows advertising flexible working options in new roles not only increases the number of applicants, but also increases the number of other jobs advertising flexibility.

    It is recommended that agencies specifically highlight ways in which the role could be done flexibly. This could be done via a prompt with a drop-down menu of options built into their job posting app, or by providing a standard text that is included in all job roles with modification as needed.

    For example (delete those not applicable):

    At <agency> we support flexible working and are happy to discuss how this role could be done flexibly. Some of the flexible working options available for this role include:
    • changing the hours worked on any given day
    • changing the number of days worked each week as part of a compressed work week 
    • reducing the total hours worked each week on a temporary or ongoing basis in a part-time arrangement
    • a job share where you partner with another colleague to perform a single role, but each work part-time
    • using paid or unpaid leave entitlements for extended breaks from full-time or even part-time work
    • working at a location other than your primary workplace.

    While the standard text is a ‘quick’ win, building it into the job posting software or app is recommended. Designing as part of a process will normalise it more quickly, as it will prompt recruiters to ask managers for this information as part of the preparation to post a role.

    It is also beneficial to promote the different types of flexibility used within your agency on the applicable 'careers' or 'recruitment' web page.

  • Tracking your agency’s progress in flexible working is as important as building awareness and capability.

    The Flexibility Implementation Tracker will help your agency to gauge where it is at now, and what it needs to change to embed flexible working into everyday working.

    You may need to source other additional data from employees. We’ve developed two pulse surveys to assist agencies in collecting additional data that may be needed to bolster their implementation of flexible working or assist in the completion of the Flex Implementation Tracker (FIT).

    • Survey v1 can be used to monitor the progress of key flexible working perceptions and attitudes, and as a source of interim data between People Matter Employee Surveys. It is also a way that your agency can reassure employees they are tracking progress in this policy commitment.
    • Survey v2 has been designed to help your agency to answer specific questions contained in the Flexibility Implementation Tracker (FIT), which government sector agencies needed to complete at least twice in 2019. These questions relate to employee perceptions of their use and access to flexible work by role type and seniority.

    We’ve also built a Flexible Working Dashboard App for government sector agencies, which contains 2019 People Matter Employee Survey and workforce profile data. It enables agencies to more deeply analyse flexible work use, satisfaction and manager support by a range of demographic or geographic factors, and to benchmark some of these scores against other agencies in a cluster, sector, and of a similar size. For the first time, agencies can see correlational data between the employee survey and workforce profile data sets; specifically, the relationship between flexible working use and satisfaction, and paid unscheduled absence. Both employee and agency data form the basis of the reporting the Public Service Commission will continue to do to the Secretaries Board and Premier’s Implementation Unit on progress in this policy commitment. Please contact us if you need any further information about using or accessing the dashboard by emailing or calling us on 9272 6072.

    Finally, we’ve also analysed some of the data from the 2017 People Matter employee survey and Workforce Profile, to reveal a number of useful insights if you’re building a business case for flexible working.