Flexibility the key for hard-working staff

Start-ups should prioritise outcomes over hours worked to attract and retain staff, according to HR expert Martin Nally.



Founder of recruitment firm hranywhere, Nally says start-ups have the ability to negotiate employees’ work hours and therefore need to embrace the notion of flexibility.


His comments come in light of new findings from The Australia Institute, which surveyed more than 1,700 people about their work-life balance.


According to the survey, half of those in full-time jobs would prefer to work fewer hours. The survey also revealed 80% of people that work overtime would prefer not to.


According to Australia Institute director Richard Denniss, working weeks should be reduced to 35 hours a week.


“Governments should follow the European lead and introduce caps on hours,” he says.


Nally disagrees with this notion, stating a 35-hour week would be just as limiting as a 38-hour week for employers and employees alike.


“Why set a number? Don’t impose flexibility; encourage flexibility,” he says.


According to Nally, start-ups have the ability to “create their own climate” by encouraging flexibility from the onset.


“The Fair Work Act contemplates that people can request of their employer that they work flexibly but it’s limited to people who’ve got young children” he says.


“As start-ups and as entrepreneurs, we’ve got to take the notion of flexibility much further than just employees of child-rearing age.”


Nally says many people are hesitant to discuss their desired work hours during an interview as it may affect their chance of getting a job.


With regard to recruiting staff, Nally says start-ups should clearly communicate their expectations prior to employment to avoid any confusion or resentment down the track.


“It’s no different to negotiating any contract. At the time of negotiation, if you don’t raise the conditions that will prevail in that contract, then the conditions do not apply,” he says.


“If you raise the issue of flexibility – ask the question and work through that process at the time of negotiation and the time of interview – then there’s going to be no surprises.”


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