Flexibility – It’s Not Just For Yogis


It’s no secret that the holiday season can be hectic, and it’s a high stress time for most of us. Endless family commitments, jam-packed schedules, too little sleep, a less-than-optimal diet, overspending…all stressors that affect our work lives. So as employers and leaders, how can we help lessen seasonal stress for our teams?

Providing flexibility at work is key to promoting balance, preserving productivity, and protecting employees’ sanity.

Providing flexibility at work is key to promoting balance, preserving productivity, and protecting employees’ sanity, especially during the holidays.

How can employers put that flexibility into action without compromising business results?

1. Let them work from home. We all know how hard it can be to get out of our pajamas some days, and around the holidays, it can be even harder to get up and go. Allowing employees to work from home (either regularly or occasionally) during the holidays means they get to ditch the suit for a day, avoid commuting in dreary weather, better juggle their personal commitments, and dodge some of those ubiquitous flu-season germs.

2. Let them flex their hours. Especially around the holidays, insisting on exact arrival and departure times often just encourages low productivity and sullen clock-watching, as employees attempting to juggle tight schedules counting down the minutes until freedom. Let employees flex their start and finish times, and trust them to deliver the results they’re accountable for.

3. Give them the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. Short of giving employees a large cash bonus (not a viable option for many employers), extra time off comes in as a close second in terms of favourite holiday gifts for employees. Not an option for your employees to totally disconnect during that time? Meet them in the middle! Let employees stay at home with their families, provided they check in via email once per day to address anything urgent.

4. Encourage them to use accrued vacation days and lieu time. Employees who feel indispensable may hesitate to take time off. And no time off = a recipe for burnout. Have a backup plan in place for everyone’s key job duties, so that nothing gets missed. Establish a standard process for workload handoff, and have employees cross-train other staff so the essentials are covered. That way, employees on vacation can truly unplug and relax, knowing that everything will be well taken care of.

5. Account for diversity. Not everyone celebrates December 25th! Make sure everyone can enjoy the perks of a flexible schedule by considering the diversity of your workforce. Before you roll out a flexible workplace initiative, take your employees’ opinions and traditions into account. Click Here for more tips on celebrating diversity at work.

It’s worth surveying your employees to find out what their needs are. No two workplaces are the same, so don’t assume you know what your employees want. Ask what your team is looking for in a flexible workplace, and don’t be too quick to dismiss unique ideas—just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea!

Your Engaged Assignment: Do you already have policies in place that promote flexibility? If not, make an early New Year’s resolution to offer more flexibility to your team.