Guide addresses work/life balance

In response to calls by industry groups such as the Australian Computer Society (ACS) to provide IT workers with a greater work/life balance, a 58-page guide was released yesterday to help employers create a more flexible working environment.

Titled Flexible Working - a guide to creating and managing a flexible workplace, it has been prepared for Australian and New Zealand organizations willing to adopt new practices to really make a difference.

The guide, which was released by the Flexible Workplace Special Interest Group (SIG), also addresses management styles and workplace mistrust, a major inhibitor to more flexible working arrangements.

SIG was established in March this year and the guide was prepared by Toshiba along with 17 member organizations including Westpac, DDI, WMC Resources, and the Foster's Group.

SIG chairperson and independent academic, James Cowley, said workplace shortages will impact many industries if organizations don't pay attention to attracting and retaining staff.

"The baby boomer generation is about to retire, taking their numbers and skills out of the workforce and many others are leaving the workforce for extended periods to raise a family and to travel; on a macro economic level, our fertility rate is just not sustaining our population level," Cowley said.

"In order to survive in the wake of these trends, organizations simply need to start looking at alternative ways of attracting and retaining staff, and flexible working offers a viable means of tapping into a greater resource of skilled people."

The guide includes seven chapters which address flexible working, including tips for managing remote workers, suggestions on how to measure the performance of employees based on productivity and business needs, examples on how and why companies have implemented flexible working, and guidance on how to secure managerial buy-in for implementing flexible working.

Toshiba information systems division general manager Mark Whittard said that many local organizations are beginning to pay attention to the shrinking work pool and are looking for solutions, like flexible working, to stay competitive.

"However, flexible working is a complex issue and our intention with the guide is to simplify how flexible working can be successfully introduced and its business benefits measured, by listing the steps companies can take," Whittard said.

"We hope this guide will help organizations improve business outcomes, such as greater productivity and employee satisfaction, through the successful implementation of flexible working."

Westpac is one organization at the forefront of implementing a more flexible workplace.

Westpac practice leader in diversity, people and performance Niki Kesoglou claims the bank's focus on diversity management has been an integral part of its differentiation in the marketplace.

"We have received acknowledgements and awards for our dedicated focus on women, age balance and people with a disability," Kesoglou said.

"The provision of flexibility supports the diverse needs of our current and future workforce and ensures we continue to attract the best talent in the marketplace."

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