Workplace Flexibility and Employee Engagement: Understand the concept of Workplace

Workplace flexibility (Workflex) is the concept having cohesive connections with the anew of balance of work and family responsibility of female and male. It generates the demands of having flexible work arrangements in business practices, i.e. organizational practices from employers to facilitate engagement for the jobs and for the organizations.

Organizations offering flexible work arrangement often achieve better performance by the higher positive results produced by employees. Generally, workplace flexibility refers to the ability of working people influencing their engagement behaviors and acts toward work-related tasks through certain choices. Individually, workplace flexibility is in relation with higher job satisfaction; lower work-related stress and increased work interferences with personal life. For the sake of employers, workplace flexibility is recognized as a useful intervention to gain higher commitment, satisfaction, performance, group dynamics, retention, etc.

In the era in which the human capital is emphasized as having power to sustain business growth, organizations are struggling with many vehicles to boost up strengths of their internal forces. We could consider Workflex as a part of it and examine, in your settings, to see if this intervention can be helped to push up engagement level.

So, what is the workplace flexibility?
Workplace flexibility is reflected by multiple dimensions including formal and informal practices and policies highlighting attitudes and values at the workplace (underlying through working climate and organizational culture); work designs and employment structures; interpersonal communications and interactions; and so on. These practices construct and then re-construct experience of workplace flexibility. Alongside policies of workplace flexibility, organizations could enhance the effect of workflex power through supportive working environment, workload and backlog control, participative supervision, perceived control, schedule flexibility, etc. Today business era, workplace flexibility is much more than a practice but a vehicle to arouse organizational commitment as it is perceived as “the opportunity of employees to make choices influencing when, where and for how long they engage in work-related tasks” (Bal & De Lange, 2015).

Integration of quantitative and qualitative workplace flexibility as a powerful vehicle for individual engagement to work-related tasks

Qualitative workplace flexibility refers to workplace practices that facilitate the right assigning of individuals to specific tasks in a more adaptable manner. In that case, employees are having a high autonomy and self-control in perfoming their works. Qualitative flexibility depends on the nature of the work itself including type of work, ways of completion, and needed skills without concerns on where and when the work is done. Forms of qualitative workplace flexibility are employee involvement, job rotation, teamwork, autonomy, use of multiple skills, etc. Those practices offer a chance for employees to self-decide tasks and works, how to do it and how to develop themselves.

Quantitative workplace flexibility refers to when and where the work is completed with how much time required. It is a measurable type of workplace flexibility. Forms of quantitative workplace flexibility are:
Flexible work time, or flextime refers to work time arrangements regarding hours. Flextime formulates practices as control over start-and-end times, staggered hours, compressed work weeks, choice in how many hours to work each week.
Remote work: an ability of employees to work from some places rather than office, such as home, hotel, coffee shop, etc. Thank for technological advance that remote work is not the constraint of smooth and frequent flow of communication.
Occasional use of flexibility: a right of employees to take a few hours off during the day or coming late in the morning, or leaving early for specific events, but on occasional basis.
Part-time work: a formal arrangement with hours and parameters being different from job to job without the full working-week schedule.
Job-sharing: an ability that employees could jointly share a full-time job creating part-time jobs. Such, working hours, allowance, etc. are split between them.

Huge benefits of workplace flexibility are perceived in the nature of today’s business environment. It is associated with a better mental health and resilience which is extremely important for an effective employee dealing with avalanche of stressors as economic turbulence and higher demands of working nature. The fact that workplace flexibility correlates to employee engagement is widely alleged; yet, in which ways and how organizations could make use of it are still the big question. One answer for all is impossible; yet answers in a common sense of thought will suggest certain mechanisms to apply for employers.

Written by April, T., – MD, Strategic Planning & Expansion of J.A. Experts
Enterprising Human capital Management by J.A. Experts
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Reference
Bal, P. M. and De Lange, H. A. (2015). From flexibility human resource management to employee engagement and perceived job performance across the lifespan: A multi-sample study, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88(1), 126-154
Hill, J. E., Erickson, J. J., Holmes, E. K. and Ferris, M. (2010). Workplace flexibility, work hours and work-life conflict: finding an extra day or two, Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 349 – 358
Masuda, A. D., Poelmans, S. A., Allen, T. D., Spector, P. E., Lapierre, L. M., Cooper, C. L. & Lu, L. (2012). Flexible work arrangements availability and their relationship with work-to-family conflict, job satisfaction and turnover intentions: a comparison of three country clusters, Applied Psychology, 61(1), 1 – 29
Origo, F. and Pagani, L. (2008). Workplace flexibility and job satisfaction: some evidence from Europe. International Journal of Manpower, 29(6), 539-566
Warner, M. A. and Hausdorf, P. A. (2009). The positive interaction of work and family roles: using need theory to further understand the work-family interface, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24(4), 372 – 385

Next thought: Workplace Flexibility and Engagement: the inter-connection