09 Nov 2016 05:38:31 PM

5 winning ways to implement flexible working arrangements in your company

Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) are a growing trend in companies today, and is considered one of the core factors to attract, nurture, and retain talent. However, what does it take to ensure the successful implementation of FWAs?
TalentCorp recently unveiled five winning formulas to help you implement FWAs successfully while increasing productivity and performance.
1) Drive Productivity Through Flexibility
Photo credit: Siemens Malaysia
Strict working hours are known to kill productivity. Employees are forced to work in between a rigid time frame, building pressure, and this induces stress which can then result in the loss of creativity and output.

Recognising this, Siemens Malaysia launched a "Work from Home" programme in 2012, which allowed employees to work away from the office once a week. Another leading technology provider, Dell Malaysia, offered several departments the following: hybrid flexible work schedules, remote work or connected work model, and flexible time-off options.
Photo credit: Dell Malaysia
Both companies have reported lower attrition rates and higher employee satisfaction scores. Employee attrition rate at Siemens fell from 14% in 2011 to 6.5% in 2015*, while Dell reported that 92% of employees surveyed in 2015 felt positive towards the flexibility given.

Clearly, the successes of both Siemens and Dell have proven that through well-implemented FWAs, employees are able to shift their focus from the clock and deliver quality work instead.
2) Walk Before Running
Photo credit: Intel Malaysia
Many companies hesitate implementing FWA as they fear that their employers may abuse the privileges of having flexible options. However, there are many methods employers can adapt to prevent this.
IBM Malaysia, which is a country pioneer in the implementation of FWA benefits, employs thorough check and balance processes to ensure these policies are well carried out. These, combined with regular conversational sessions between management and employees, have resulted in high employee engagement scores.

Intel Malaysia selects employees who have demonstrated good performance, track record and independence for FWAs as a risk mitigation approach. This approach is a win-win situation for both employers and employees, resulting in a 73% employee engagement score in 2014.
3) Keep People In And Costs Managed
Photo credit: CIMB Group
Although most believe that FWAs are expensive, if implemented correctly, FWAs can actually help companies retain top employees, and reduce hiring and training costs and ultimately record savings. In fact, it is reported that 63% of workers would be absent less if offered FWAs*.

CIMB Group offers a Staff Rejuvenation Programme (SRP) where employees were provided up to 6 months unpaid sabbatical leave. More than 700 employees have taken up the SRP from 2009 to 2014, helping them in challenging times of family or personal needs.
Photo credit: PwC Malaysia
PwC Malaysia first implemented FWAs to retain young mothers who are strong performances. Programmes such as “Career Break”, “Time-Out” and “FlexSpace” have resulted in increased employee engagement scores of 71% (2016), up from 65% (2011)**.
4) Think Beyond Gender
Photo credit: Gamuda Malaysia
It is a myth that FWAs are only valuable to women. It has value to every segment of the population including for people with disabilities (PWD).

Take for example, Gamuda, whose “Project Differently Abled” aims to create sustainable career opportunities for autistic individuals.  The 16 employees thriving under the programme are proof that with proper support, these individuals can lead fulfilling lives with meaningful careers.

Telekom Malaysia provides a large number of FWAs regardless of gender, exemplified in FWA practices such as allowing parents to be on school holiday work arrangement. In VADS, the company also implemented the STEP-UP programme to ensure that the welfare of PWD employees are taken care of.
5) Practice And Policy Makes Perfect
Photo credit: Maybank Group
In most companies, the introduction of FWAs usually begin as informal arrangements. Once established, FWA policies can and should be formalised to ensure that employees embrace the benefits responsibly and that both parties are protected should any conflict arises.

One of Malaysia’s leading financial providers, Maybank Group, institutionalised FWAs to monitor and supervise the practice of those benefits. Not only did this move improve retention rates from 52% (2009) to 85% (2015) but it also resulted in positive employee engagement scores of 85% (2014).

In line with PETRONAS Global Talent Strategy, the O&G organisation enhanced its FWA policies through the introduction of flexible working hours with plans to further extend the flexibility in 2017. This, in part, has increased the female participation in top management of PETRONAS from 16% in 2012 to 24% to date.

It is undeniable that FWAs represents the future of how work is done and what employees expect when applying for a position. In this globalised era where everything is fast changing and moving, companies must adapt to these needs to ensure productivity as well as survivability.
More information on The Winning Formula can be found in the MY Work, MY Future report here.

* Data sourced from MY Work, MY Future: Embracing the Winning Formula for Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs), 2016, TalentCorp.
** In November 2016, PwC launched three new initiatives under their enhanced “flex+” programme. These are extended paternity leave, “FlexTime” and “FlexFriday”.