13 Ways to Give More Flexibility to Employees

When creating a more adaptable workplace, input from staff members will help ensure initiatives are inclusive of employees' needs.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Newsweek Expert Forum

The last few years have shown that the traditional workplace has the potential to be a much more variable space than previously thought. As employers continue to navigate the return to the office and the hiring of new employees, it's critical to consider the changes that have taken place and how those changes will impact what the workplace looks like, including where and how employees will work from now on.

Regardless of the workplace ultimately set up, a leader must aim for an environment that is adaptable to the needs of the employees working within it. Below, 13 Newsweek Expert Forum members share less commonly known ways to give flexibility to employees.

1. Have Employees Define 'Flexibility'

Flexibility allows employees to integrate their work and personal life in a way in which they can optimize their resources in order to be successful at work and at home. Because no two employees are the same, flexibility means different things to different employees. A supported and trusted employee will in turn be committed and motivated. Let employees define what flexibility they need. - Nita Kohli, Kohli Advisors

2. Invite Discovery

Ask what they would do with greater flexibility. What would matter most about having it, and what will that do for them? Find out where, when and with whom they want it with. Then, put on your leading-as-a-coach hat and ask the nifty little question of what valuable thing might they lose when they have that flexibility. Invite discovery to uncover what an ideal work environment is and can be. - Jay Steven Levin, WinThinking

3. Become an Enabler

Give employees clear expectations and guidelines—and then get out of the way. When you are building your company, you can fall into the trap of needing to be intimately involved in too many things. You created a team to accomplish great things for the business. You have to adopt the enabler mindset, allowing employees to complete things in the manner they think works best. - Matt Domo, FifthVantage

4. Have Them Share Their Working Styles

Say to your people, "The pandemic has taught us that as long as you get your work done, it doesn't matter from where or when you do it. Please come back to us with a proposal of how you'd like to work going forward that helps you get your work done and that works for you." That said, it's still a good idea to have employees occasionally meet other workers in person because that different energy might help their creativity. - Mark Goulston, Mark Goulston, M.D., Inc.

5. Provide Tools and Technology

Business leaders need to focus on providing flexibility for their teams to do their best work, no matter their location. According to a recent survey by my company, 71 percent of employees prefer to work from anywhere over receiving a promotion. To provide the flexibility that people want, you must focus on providing the right tools and technologies to enable and secure the "everywhere" workplace. - Melissa Puls, Ivanti

6. Keep an Open Mind

An open mind is an entrance for new ideas. Allowing your employees to express their thoughts, especially during meetings is a great form of flexibility. It shows that you value their input and provides a sense of belonging and appreciativeness. Testing out their logical suggestions can improve the business, encouraging employees to be cooperative and innovative as they strive to provide useful insight. - David Castain, David Castain & Associates

7. Consider Employee Preferences

Ask employees what they want. Would they prefer a shorter workweek? Perhaps they want work-from-home opportunities or maybe mental health days off. It's important to find out what's important to them because not everyone has the same needs. Flexibility in the workplace is all about control, so give employees control to decide what flexible perks are important to them. - Elliott Smith, The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center

8. Implement Time-Off Programs

We implemented flexible/unlimited time-off programs and it's been very popular. This type of flexibility gives employees peace of mind knowing they can take the time they need off without any repercussions. It also simplifies the process of requesting time off and aligns with our entrepreneurial culture by encouraging employees to create the balance they need. - Umang Modi, TIAG, Inc.

9. Give Employees Autonomy

Giving employees autonomy and trusting them to accomplish their responsibilities without constant oversight fosters employee happiness and improves productivity. Flexible work hours help employees better balance personal and professional responsibilities, leading to a happier and healthier workforce. In turn, this can lead to increased loyalty and motivation and improved retention rates. - Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting

10. Set Core Hours

First, forget the one-size-fits-all approach and give employees options. One of the most overlooked options is setting core hours. Have everyone work the same four or five hours in the middle of the workday and allow flexibility around when they work the rest of their time. Take it a step further by limiting the core hours to four days—maybe Monday to Thursday—and the flexibility increases exponentially. - Frank Cania, HR Compliance Experts LLC

11. Have Meeting-Free Days

The almighty meeting-free or Zoom-free day works. Provide days of the week (one or more if you can) where your employees, or certain employees, are 100 percent free and blocked from having internal or external meetings. Providing that "me" time to your staff is more appreciated than you can imagine and will enhance their focus and quality of work. - Chris Tompkins, The Go! Agency

12. Encourage Lives Outside of Work

Working hours and location matter less when you have 100 percent of an employee's mindshare. Sure, employees need to be available to do the job, but you want the ideas that happen when they are not working. Often, the most brilliant, creative thoughts are the ones that come while running, hiking, driving or even taking a shower, not while thinking about work. Encourage that kind of flexibility. - Arturo Elizondo, EVERY™

13. Create a Culture of Empowerment

You can give flexibility to employees by enabling and empowering them. When employees become the "CEO" of their role, they can navigate more freely to best achieve company objectives. This gives a greater degree of flexibility in terms of who, what, when, where and how they accomplish their job responsibility. - Margie Kiesel, Avaneer Health

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