Flexible working arrangements? Recruiters share tips on how best to manage employees during this time
It is a well-known fact that COVID-19 has greatly affected all sectors worldwide. Aside from its adverse effects on health and safety, the pandemic also resulted in a downturn in the economic sector, with industries closing down and employees subsequently losing jobs in the process.
Our COVID-19 Job Report released in August disclosed that over 60% of job candidates were impacted, with 17% permanently retrenched and 43% temporarily ceasing work.
To address this shift in the job market and to lessen job loss casualties, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) proposed Flexible Working Arrangements (FWA), or temporary alternative arrangements that deviate from the standard working hours, workdays and workweek.
But how does one begin, you may ask? Recruiters from our community partner, HR Shouts and Whispers, share their personal experiences and recommendations on how to mediate between company needs and employee well-being during this period.
What are the types of Flexible Working Arrangements?
Here are six DOLE-recommended setups for your company to take into consideration based on your business needs:
Compressed workweek. This is where the work days are reduced to less than 6 days, but the 48-hour collective total is maintained. Each work day is increased in terms of hours consumed, but twelve hours is not exceeded to avoid incurring overtime
Reduction of work days. Employee work days are reduced on a per week basis, but should not last for more than six
Rotation of Workers. This applies to both the work-from-home setup or in-company setup, where skeleton manning or a fixed number of employees are allowed to work.
Forced Leave. This is a setup where employees are asked to utilize their leave credits where applicable or to take a compulsory unpaid leave. This could positively contribute to lessening full-time equivalent (FTE)
Broken-time schedule. Work hours are not continuous but the number of work hours and work days
Flexi-holiday schedules. This is where employees agree to offset usual holiday times off to other days provided that the same benefits still apply.
Jose Te, HR and Admin Manager of The Red Flag Group (Philippines), shares a sample workflow of how he and his Human Resources team successfully implemented FWA in the company:
Initial determination of key persons per department as test subjects of the FWA. He decided on this division of labor based on who could report to the office if in the event of
Surveys were sent out to determine who has the capacity to work from home and we installed VPN on company-issued laptops and desktops to assure security of
Employees using their personal laptop/desktops can only access their files through remote access by way of the cloud database and these files/documents are only saved within their internal
How FWAs impact the company
Have FWAs led to positive results for the company? It’s a yes according to Rodel M. Ancot, HR and OD Project Volunteer for QPAX Traffic Systems Inc. “The FWA helped the company continue its operations aligned with that of the local government units.”
Te agrees with Ancot’s sentiments, saying that it was a seamless adaptation given that they have allowed Work From Home guidelines and arrangements even prior to the pandemic. “[FWAs] provide work-life balance and allow employees to attend to their families’ needs.”
The setup, however, provided a mixed bag of initial reactions from management. “Executives and leadership tend to disagree with providing FWA as they can’t monitor what employees are doing. However, given that there is no impact on the quality of service and tasks are completed on time, they agreed to push through with the FWA,” shares Te.
Te adds as well that it lessened the company’s operational costs, allowed for more flexibility in hiring and enticed more applicants as a result. FWAs also lowered the employee attrition rate.
(Also read: 5 Best Practices to Working from Home)
How to take care of your employees
On the other end of the spectrum, there is an inevitable impact that arises from implementing FWA, and reduction of income is the most prime effect. This may lead to the question, ‘Is there a best FWA setup that will address both company and employee needs?’ According to Tina Khoe Ang, General Manager of EMO Jewelry, it really depends on the priorities you have, but there is one important thing you must remember when implementing this.
“Make sure that the FWA is done in good faith. Don’t place a staff [member] in a far-off location just because of personal dislike. Always do a FWA in good faith, with the intention to save jobs.”
Ancot shares that implementing FWAs have contributed to overall employee satisfaction. “Most prefer the setup especially in the first quarter of quarantine, though some have raised concerns about internet connection for those who were working at home.”
Te shares the same sentiments, saying that employees are pleased overall with the setup. “It increases employee’s satisfaction as they have more time for their family or they can use their extra hours attending to other tasks rather than travelling to and from the office.”
Still, this change in remuneration may hang heavy on your employees and may discourage some in the long run. With this, Ang shares four guidelines employers must remember when speaking with their employees.
Always be honest with your employees. “Explain to them why you’re doing this. If they’re not into the idea of FWA, don’t push it. You don’t need to force them to come in. But by being honest and transparent with them, you can plan better. At least you now know which ones are willing to support the company during this time,” she
The FWA must be fair to all employees. “Schedule your staff to have an equal number of days compared to each other. Be fair when implementing the FWA. No favoritism ”
Guide employees accordingly during the adaptation period. “Many of them will suffer a reduction of income due to lesser days worked. It will be tough for them especially if they are the breadwinners of big families. Many would feel that coming in may not be worth it given that their commute expense is higher than before.”
Encourage employees to stay. “Be there to answer their call and encourage them as much as possible. Jobs are challenging to find nowadays, so it’s better for them to remain employed in the business than to be ”
“Believe in yourself and your business. Ride out this crisis and come out from it stronger, leaner and more profitable than it was before,” says Ang. “Post 6 months, there will be less competitors, rent will be more reasonable, employees will be more appreciative of their job, and the economy will pick up.”
There is no perfect way to implement the FWA, but if set with the right intentions, your employees and company will thank you for the efforts.
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