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Using SMART Goals to Improve Your Company’s Flexibility

Woman working on her smart goal objectives using a laptop.

Flex­i­bil­i­ty in the work­place is more than just a buzz­word, it’s the future of suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Find out how to use SMART goals to improve your company’s flexibility.

Flex­i­bil­i­ty at work may be one of the new busi­ness trends, but it’s one that’s here to stay. The increased preva­lence of mil­len­ni­als in the work­force is encour­ag­ing com­pa­nies to ditch rigid struc­tures in favour of a more flex­i­ble approach. But what does flex­i­bil­i­ty mean for a business?

Flex­i­bil­i­ty is a broad term that cov­ers mul­ti­ple aspects of work­ing life. Flex­i­bil­i­ty means empow­er­ing your employ­ees and giv­ing them the auton­o­my to do their jobs to the best of their abil­i­ty. It’s the oppo­site of micro­manag­ing. Rather than breath­ing down your employ­ees’ necks, flex­i­bil­i­ty is all about trust­ing them to take the reigns and make their own deci­sions. By allow­ing your staff to own their own career paths, take the lead on projects or set their own work­ing hours, your busi­ness could reap some seri­ous benefits.

But how can you make your work­place more flex­i­ble, and how can the use of SMART goals help?

What’s the Ben­e­fit of Work­place Flexibility?

It’s not dif­fi­cult to imag­ine why flex­i­bil­i­ty is so entic­ing for employ­ees. We would all jump at the chance to have con­trol over our time and the abil­i­ty to come and go as we please. That’s just one of the rea­sons flex­i­bil­i­ty works so well in the work­place. In a flex­i­ble work­place, employ­ees feel more in con­trol of their careers and entire work­ing lives, which can result in increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, com­pa­ny loy­al­ty and an over­all boost in morale. But flex­i­bil­i­ty can ben­e­fit your com­pa­ny too. Let’s take a look at the stats and get to the bot­tom of this emerg­ing trend.

The demo­graph­ics of busi­ness are chang­ing. Mil­len­ni­als now make up a large pro­por­tion of the work­force and they’re bring­ing with them new ideas about the most effi­cient ways to work. A stag­ger­ing 45% of mil­len­ni­als would choose flex­i­ble sched­ules over high­er pay — that real­ly says it all. It all boils down to work-life bal­ance — a cru­cial but some­what elu­sive con­cept — with 86% of mil­len­ni­al work­ers claim­ing it’s their top career priority.

When a com­pa­ny incor­po­rates flex­i­bil­i­ty and bal­ance into its work cul­ture, it sends a pos­i­tive mes­sage that it’s lis­ten­ing to the desires of its work­ers. The result? A hap­pi­er work­force and low­er turnover. The num­bers don’t lie — 90% of organ­i­sa­tions that have pri­ori­tised work-life bal­ance and flex­i­bil­i­ty state that it’s improved over­all staff sat­is­fac­tion, with 74% claim­ing it’s improved retention.

Flex­i­bil­i­ty also increas­es pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and prof­itabil­i­ty. Vodafone’s study of work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty illus­trates the pow­er of flex­i­ble man­age­r­i­al prac­tices. The study found that 61% of respon­dents claimed flex­i­bil­i­ty increased prof­its, 83% claimed it improved pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and 58% claimed it improved their company’s rep­u­ta­tion — and that’s only a teas­er of some of the pos­i­tive results gath­ered in the glob­al sur­vey. It’s clear that flex­i­bil­i­ty can have broad and ben­e­fi­cial effects on a com­pa­ny-wide scale.

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Address­ing the Poten­tial Prob­lems of Work­place Flexibility

Imag­ine you’re a busy sin­gle mum or dad, bal­anc­ing work with rais­ing your chil­dren. You need to leave the office ear­ly every day to col­lect your chil­dren from school. You speak to your man­agers and they allow you to leave ear­ly — great! Now imag­ine you’re that person’s co-work­er. You not only have to work full office hours, but also bear the bur­den of addi­tion­al work. Work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty can end up ben­e­fit­ing some more than others.

When incor­po­rat­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty into your com­pa­ny cul­ture, it’s inte­gral that the same stan­dards are applied to every­one. When it comes to flex­i­bil­i­ty, con­sis­ten­cy is key. That’s not to say that every­one can just saunter in and out as they please, but rather that a rea­son­able equi­lib­ri­um has to be achieved across the board. Any lim­its to flex­i­bil­i­ty should be clear­ly explained and bound­aries enforced to ensure the sys­tem is fair.

Ideas for Improv­ing Work­place Flexibility

Every com­pa­ny is dif­fer­ent. Cul­ture and work­ing prac­tices dif­fer. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solu­tion for work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty, here are some areas that you can eas­i­ly look at.

Work­ing Hours

Peo­ple are most pro­duc­tive work­ing 9 – 5, right? Not nec­es­sar­i­ly. Research from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, found that pro­duc­tiv­i­ty varies depend­ing on the per­son. For some, a 4am start sets them up for the day. Oth­ers find that their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty peaks late at night. The take-away? Opti­mal pro­duc­tiv­i­ty hours are per­son­al and they’re not pre­dictable. This makes enforc­ing a spe­cif­ic and rigid set of hours ded­i­cat­ed to work­ing non­sen­si­cal. If you want to get the best out of your employ­ees, offer flex­i­bil­i­ty when it comes to work­ing hours.

This is where hav­ing good qual­i­ty, mea­sur­able SMART goals is key. When work­ing hours become flex­i­ble, suc­cess needs to be defined by spe­cif­ic deliv­er­ables and impact rather than hours worked.

Break Time

Have you ever felt so over­whelmed and fraz­zled that you had to take a moment away from your desk? Didn’t that short amount of time make you feel bet­ter? Work life can be stress­ful and tak­ing short breaks to rest and recharge are vital to pre­vent burnout. How­ev­er, stud­ies show that only 33% of employ­ees take breaks dur­ing their work­ing day. The main rea­son? Pres­sure from their supe­ri­ors to stay put. So encour­age your man­agers to take reg­u­lar breaks them­selves. This will then encour­age their team mem­bers to do the same as they lead by exam­ple. Your employ­ees will ulti­mate­ly feel more bal­anced, in con­trol and capa­ble of com­plet­ing their work more efficiently.

Lim­it Meetings

Meet­ings are cru­cial to a business’s suc­cess, but if you’re spend­ing your days hop­ping end­less­ly between meet­ing rooms, it’s a sign that some­thing needs to change. Exec­u­tives find that 67% of these back-to-back meet­ings are unpro­duc­tive — it’s no won­der you end the day feel­ing as though you haven’t accom­plished anything.

One of the eas­i­est ways to improve your company’s flex­i­bil­i­ty is to cut out unnec­es­sary meet­ings. Stick to a strict cal­en­dar and plan meet­ings in advance, ensur­ing each has a clear objec­tive and goal in mind. Not only will this free up your employee’s sched­ules, but it will also improve pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, allow­ing more time to be spent on actu­al­ly tak­ing action, rather than mere­ly mak­ing plans to.

Encour­age Per­son­al Interests

Flex­i­bil­i­ty is a solu­tion to the strug­gle to main­tain a work-life bal­ance — one that we shouldn’t ignore. With increased demands on our time, we’re more eager than ever to achieve sta­bil­i­ty. One way of keep­ing that bal­ance, with­out com­pro­mis­ing work, is to incor­po­rate per­son­al inter­ests into the work­day. A lunchtime net­ball game, a mid-after­noon yoga ses­sion, a team view­ing of the World Cup — there are end­less ways you can show your team that you care about their pas­sions and interests.

How Can SMART Goals Help Flexibility?

SMART goals’, used prop­er­ly, set clear expec­ta­tions and time­lines. They enable man­agers to judge per­for­mance accord­ing to on-time deliv­ery of goals rather than focus­ing on hours worked. With­out these mea­sur­able goals, pre­sen­teeism and lack of trust can become the norm mak­ing a flex­i­ble work­ing cul­ture impos­si­ble to achieve.

When you suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment a trust­ing, flex­i­ble work­ing envi­ron­ment sup­port­ed by SMART goals, the long-term ben­e­fits for your busi­ness include a huge boost in morale and over­all staff satisfaction.

Are you look­ing to intro­duce more flex­i­bil­i­ty into your com­pa­ny cul­ture? Using SMART goals and imple­ment­ing small but effec­tive changes to the way you oper­ate ben­e­fit both employ­er and employ­ee. To find out how you can improve your busi­ness fur­ther by using SMART goals, check out our per­for­mance man­age­ment soft­ware.