New Year’s resolution: put employees first by swapping policies for strategies

| January 8, 2015

Are you still deciding on your New Year Resolutions for your business? Lindsay Brown believes it’s time to focus on creating a better work-life balance for your employees.

When we think of New Year’s resolutions, we often think of losing, quitting or saving. Whether it’s losing weight, quitting cigarettes or saving money, our resolutions tend to focus on making ourselves healthier and happier. However for business owners, aiming for a healthier, happier business in 2015 will be inextricably linked to making others the centre of attention – their employees.

Any business owner will tell you, that in theory the domino effect works – happy employees mean a better business, and an even happier business owner. However for this to translate into a reality, business owners need to be committed to developing workplace strategies which exist to better the work-life balance of employees.

While work-life balance continues to be the catch-cry of the 21stcentury workplace, many businesses seem to struggle with making this goal a reality. Late last year, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency released a report around Australian employers, finding that while nearly half of employers (47.7 per cent)have policies on flexible working, only 13.6 per cent have a strategy for it. Similarly, 45.2 per cent have a policy for supporting employees with family and caring responsibilities but only 13.2 per cent have a strategy.

It would seem then, that more time needs to be allocated to developing practical strategies, rather than getting bogged down in policy-making. Given this is an ‘easier said than done’ scenario, below are three key areas business owners can work on in terms of developing a better strategy for work-life balance.

Build in some face time
We should encourage our workforce to work where best suits the individual, however when employees are working remotely, whether it be from home or in a different office or space, it is important that face-to-face communication isn’t completely sacrificed. Video collaboration tools such can allow up to 100 participants to video-conference, ensuring that those who chose to work remotely don’t feel disconnected from their teams.

However, this isn’t to say that video conferencing should replace in-person meetings completely – there are most definitely business situations where that in person interaction is both valuable and at times necessary if the nature is of a more strategic nature. You may want to plan strategic meetings offline, with the view of organising follow-up meetings online.

Over-communicate
When catching up with your flexible workers, use the time effectively.Make sure you have regularcheck-ins to determine workload, as time pressures won’t be as obvious as those employees physically in the office. It’s also important to be intuitive, detect problems from what you don’t hear as well as what you do.

Work collaboratively
Think about the tools and strategies you can put in place in order to foster collaboration amongst all employees – no matter where they are based. Beyond the obvious video call or instant messenger tools, remember that technology is your friend in all areas – use it to allow for file-sharing and document editing on the go to improve productivity or consider an enterprise social network platform to take unnecessary noise off of email.

While flexible working won’t suit everyone, it’s important that practical strategies are put in place to look after every employee’s needs whilst maintaining a cohesive team. If you can focus on the strategy rather than the policy, you will be rewarded with a productive, agile and highly mobile business.

Even though you may have vowed to lose those 10 kilos over a glass of bubbles at 11:59pm again, it is not too late to get your proverbial ducks in a row, ready for your most successful business year to date.

Lindsay Brown is the Regional Director for Citrix SaaS Division in the Asia Pacific region. Lindsay joined Citrix after 10 years with Adobe Systems and brings more than 16 years of sales and executive management experience. With a successful track record in growing and scaling both emerging and established multi-national technology companies, he now turns his attention to the expansion of Citrix’s presence and market share in the APAC region Brown graduated with honours from the University of Technology, Sydney in 1998 with a Bachelor of Computer Systems Engineering and earned his Masters of Business Administration with High Distinction from the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba in 2005.

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