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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

How can you manage flexibility in the workplace?

You've always tried to be a supervisor who provides an environment that is family friendly. You understand when Jim needs to leave at 4 p.m. to watch his son's ball game or when Karen flexes her lunch hour due to a dentist appointment for her daughter. These things come up on occasion, and you've been happy to approve.

Lately, though, it seems that the flexibility is getting out of control. You are no longer being asked, but rather being told - and with very short notice, at that! It's putting a strain on co-workers who are here all the time, and frustrations are running high.

  • If you're introducing flexibility into the workplace, set some guidelines. Clearly define what "occasional" means and how much notice is appropriate. If you include staff in the development of the guidelines, they will be more likely to support and follow them.
  • If you are trying to rein in a flexible workplace gone amok, start by identifying whether it is a staff-wide problem or a difficulty with just one person. A staff-wide solution could start with a team meeting to discuss what you are seeing and to gain staff's help in creating rules that all can live by.
  • If you are dealing with one or two individuals who are taking advantage of your flexibility, have a private discussion. Bring a snapshot of the employee's flextime over the past month so the person has a visual to help them understand the situation. Set expectations regarding your need for advance notice. Define what "flexibility" means to you and what you are willing to approve. Be prepared to deny a request, if necessary.

For questions about introducing or gaining control of a flexible workplace, contact Employee Relations at 49-41679.

-  Connie Reckowsky, employee relations specialist
   Employee Relations

February 2012 issue


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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.