What to do when an employee asks for more flex

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You’re all for workplace flexibility: Your employees work from home or adjust hours to meet family or personal needs. But now a staffer wants even more schedule shifting—and you have concerns for the health of your business. Take the lead in talking about mutual needs, says Ken Matos, director of research at Families and Work Institute, with these steps.

Start with the problem. Employees can get stuck on suggesting a solution they’ve thought about without realizing all the possibilities. Have your staffer describe his actual flex needs. Then review his job description—with and without him—to figure out which of his job functions are absolutely essential, and which can be traded around to open up more time for him.

Consider a team effort. Take a look at how your whole team can be involved in the solution. Many employees are happy to help one another, especially in the name of mutual support. But don’t underestimate the requesting employee. Even with a high-demand caregiving situation, he may be able to take on more than you think. Make sure you ask before assigning— or not assigning—work.

Take care of yourself. Supervisors often forget they can’t support their staff if they don’t support themselves. Acknowledge how you feel: sympathetic to your employee, worried about team productivity, frustrated over another request. Then you’ll be able to see to the needs of your employee, ensuring that he can keep his career and income intact while you continue to hold down the proverbial fort.

Source: Working Mother