At a time when the recession has impacted so many people leaving them jobless and looking for new careers, many are reevaluating what is really important to them. Ironically, making top dollar doesn’t seem to be the top priority. Many folks have worked for years and climbed the corporate ladder and then reached a point where the ladder fell over or they decided the air was too thin up top.
In Eve Tahmincioglu’s recent article, she specifically addresses women who have shifted their definition of successes by working flexible hours, part-time and job shares. They are finding their professional lives rewarding and still being able to prioritize personal aspects of their lives.
Some people voluntarily reshape their definition of success while others find themselves redefining their careers as a result of job loss. Being out of work unexpectedly does cause hardship, fear and uncertainly, but it can force people to reevaluate what is REALLY necessary and important. As a result, both voluntary and involuntary exit from a job offers the opportunity to re-balance personal and professional priorities.
It is not different for employers. As businesses continue to make difficult decisions and changes (staff reductions, budget cuts, program eliminations, no pay increases, hiring freezes, pay cuts, benefits cost increases to employees, etc.) they will need to also create new priorities for ways to attract, optimize and retain top talent. That means thinking of new ways to appeal to existing employees and applicants. It means a new way of defining success.
Sometimes employers find themselves resistant to creating flexibility. Often they wait for employees to offer up flexible solutions rather than taking a proactive approach. When the employer is proactive, it is less likely viewed as favoritism. I have had executives tell me it makes them feel like they don’t have control when they allow employees to work at home, part-time, or flex hours/schedules. I challenge them to rethink. If employers set clear expectations and measurable objectives, employees will be appreciative of the flexibility, leading to higher morale and productivity. The result is greater success.
Employers shouldn’t waste time fighting flexibility, but rather invest time in creating flexible work solutions that fit their business environment. Redefine success for the business and each job. Not every job can have the same flexibility. To assure fair treatment to employees, all employees doing the same job should have the opportunity for the same flexibility. If there is a requirement to limit flexibility to only some employees in the same job, establish clear guidelines based on non-discriminatory criteria.
Being flexible, doesn’t mean giving up anything, it may mean actually getting more. In fact, flexibility could be your new definition of success.