Education Vs. Legislation?

Education Vs. LegislationWhat will prompt employers to create family friendly employment opportunities?

I’m an employer, one that actively champion’s the idea of providing flexible work arrangements to employees.  I support this under the belief that doing so is as good for employees, and their families, as it is for employers.  So why don’t all employers think this way?  If flexibility has been proven to be so positive for both employers and employees, why are some employers reluctant to offer it?  Why are some employers even seen to be discriminating against mothers, mothers to be, parents and carers in an effort to not provide it?  If the benefits of providing flexibility are so obvious, why do we even need legislation? Perhaps we need more education and less legislation?    

How much do we actually know about flexibility?

I’ve gained an understanding of workplace flexibility deliberately.  I know what I know because I’ve been immersed in the topic for nearly two years.  The more I read and educate myself on the subject, the more I believe there are genuine benefits to both the employer and employee when it is embraced by a business.  What I’ve also realised is that I am a minority; unless an employer is actively searching for information on the subject, they’re probably getting little or no education on matter and without that education, it’s no wonder there is a reluctance to provide flexibility.

Flexibility only benefits the employee?

Along with a potential lack of education on workplace flexibility, I believe there are a few misnomers circulating on the topic too.  Flexibility can appear to benefit the employee without any regard for the employer.  This feeling may have even been exacerbated by the introduction of legislation and current talk of furthering existing legislative powers on the matter.  I believe if the positive benefits of workplace flexibility were fully understood, employers would think less about complying with the law and focus more on the fact that flexibility could actually be the answer to many of their problems and not the cause and that embracing flexibility can improve their bottom line, not impact it.

Flexibility only works for big companies?

As someone who has taken the time to understand the ins and outs of workplace flexibility, one criticism I have of the movement to educate people is that many of the success stories are about larger, multi-national, bluechip corporations.  The truth is that the positive effects of providing flexibility to an employee of a small business with a handful of employees is the same as providing it to an employee of a global giant.  Think about it – would an increase in employee loyalty be useful to a small business (tick); what about greater employee productivity (tick again) and how about less employee absenteeism, lower staff turnover and generally healthier, happier staff; would these be desirable to a small business (I think so – that’s another tick).

Flexibility: Bring it on!

While School Hours doesn’t need staff just yet, I am hopeful we’ll be embraced by jobseekers, employees and employers around Australia and we’ll soon have a need for some employees.  When that time comes, you can be sure we’ll walk the walk and give our employees the flexibility they need to fulfil their personal lives as well as to excel in their professional lives.  We’ll do this because the education we’ve received shows me that the result will be a truly happy, engaged employee and have that will have positive effects on our businesses success and ultimately our bottom line.  Maybe before heading down the legislation path again as there seems to be talk of at the moment, maybe a consideration can be made for more education on the matter?  It’s certainly made me change my tune.

Leigh Grigaliunas

Leigh is an owner and co-founder of School Hours Pty Ltd.Leigh's passion for helping others coupled with his desire to achieve a balance between raising children and earning a living, lead him to create School Hours Pty Ltd with his wife Yasmin.School Hours will be the place to go for Australian parents wanting to connect with progressive thinking, family friendly employers.

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