Everyone really seemed to love our Industry Knowledge Quiz, so limber up, stretch out those professional muscles, and get flexible. Our next quiz is coming at you.
What do you know about employee benefits, specifically flexible working conditions?
Despite employers’ best efforts at cultivating ‘funky’ corporate cultures, it is flexibility – not just bean bags and pool tables – that could ultimately tip the scale for any prospective candidate and also keep employees from leaving. Do flexibility right and you’ve got an amazing team with minimal churn and a magnetic workplace. Do it wrong and you wind up on the permanent-hiring treadmill with a workplace filled with resentment and uncertainty.
And data shows that flexibility matters now more than ever. Recent reports suggest that 85 per cent of Australians believe it is more important to have a good work-life balance than a successful career.
While some parts of the quiz might be harder than they look and really test your judgment and knowledge, others will just be a fun refresher. Ready? Five questions.
Q1. An employee who has worked for your organisation for three and half years makes a request for flexible working arrangements. Two of the below answers are eligible requests, which one is not?
- Lucinda wants to start work two hours earlier so she can finish work at 3pm instead of 5pm to pick up her son from school.
- It is salmon spawning season and Gregory would like to work 10 hours a day, four days a week (instead of his usual eight by five) so he can take each Friday off over a period of eight weeks so he can go fishing.
- Marion is 62 years old and requests multiple changes to her roster so she can help look after her new-born granddaughter.
The answer is b. However, since Greg does make a reasonable request, this could fall under an ‘individual flexibility arrangement’. If you don’t work to accommodate his outside interest, it may only be a matter of time until he finds an employer who will.
Q2. Which of the below is one of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s tips for best practice?
- After declining a request, offer the employee an item from the vending machine.
- Requests should be made in writing. Be sure to recycle requests upon rejection.
- Approval isn’t black and white. You can always negotiate the terms of flexible working conditions with the employee.
- Try implementing a convoluted application process with dozens of forms to fill out in order to discourage employees from requesting flexible conditions.
While a, b and d might appear on an episode of the ABC comedy Utopia, the answer is c. You should always be prepared to negotiate the terms to ensure both parties are satisfied. After all, it’s about being flexible.
Q3. Which of the below are reasonable reasons to decline a request?
- No other employees are available to cover the change in arrangements.
- The request would cost too much money to accommodate.
- The change would severely impact customer service.
- A request was not received in writing.
- All of the above.
All the answers are technically reasonable grounds for declining a request so the answer is e. That being said, in the case of scenario d, we’d recommend beginning whatever approval or negotiation process is necessary while the employee puts the request in writing.
Q4. How long do you have to respond once a written request is received?
- 21 days.
- 14 days.
- 60 days.
This is a hard one. The answer is a. The bottom line is that most of us wouldn’t know this because we’d resolve these requests much sooner. Timely resolutions are positive. This is particularly the case when a worker needs to take care of children or other family members – don’t leave them in limbo.
Q5. Which of the below does not fall under the term ‘flexible work arrangements’?
- Work hours.
- Work location.
- Work patterns.
- Work ‘no smoking’ policy.
Initially, we thought this one was easy, but as it turns out there’s been some controversy as we tested these. The answer is d, but the argument was made that even a ‘no smoking’ policy could be seen as part of the negotiations in some places.
That’s the quiz. Hope you enjoyed it. Any feedback? Please send it our way.