We’ve discussed the role of the association as a workplace on this blog in the past. Considering some associations employ up to hundreds, if not thousands, we think remembering the association’s role and responsibilities not only to its members but to the hardworking teams behind the scenes is paramount. We’ve discussed the need for a dynamic workplace culture as a part of the steps to take to ensure your employees are not only satisfied with their roles, but well-positioned to go above and beyond. A big part of that type of culture is offering flexibility while maintaining high quality results. Indeed, a certain degree of flexibility can even go a long way towards ensuring high quality results, depending on the employee and the type of work they’re doing.
Generally speaking, when we discuss flexibility we’re not talking about easing off on deadlines or relaxing certain job requirements—while those things may have a place on a case-by-case basis, they probably won’t be contributing to improve overall morale and productivity in the long run (quite the opposite, actually). But in some situations, a little flexibility goes a long way towards helping your employees and promoting the right type of culture.
There was an interesting piece on Associations Now recently detailing the work disruptions for many Washington DC-based associations during the recent summit of African leaders at The White House. Because of the disruptions, which included street closures, heavy traffic, and lack of access to certain buildings, some DC associations were offering flexible schedules to employees. From the post, which included thoughts from Elizabeth Keyes, COO of American Pharmacists Association:
“’We let folks know how to get in touch in the event that they couldn’t reach the person that they were looking for, but our phones were covered and emails were checked, so there should have been no disruption of service for our members,’ she said. ‘When you’re located in DC—and particularly where we’re located here among the monuments along the National Mall—we have lots of disruptions, and they just become kind of the course of our business activity. So we do what we can to adjust and make the best of it.’”
Allowing employees with the capability to work from home when necessary is a key component to productivity. While not every organization wants to promote full-time teleworking, offering this flexible option in certain circumstances or for certain positions can be an extremely attractive benefit. Not only can it help with productivity in a number of ways (for starters, employees staying home sick but who feel well enough to work can accomplish tasks without worrying about infecting their colleagues), but organizations with work from home options will attract a higher caliber of employee.
This type of flexibility contributes to your overall culture and answers the question of just what type of workplace your association will be. We aren’t arguing that rigidity is always a bad thing—as we stated, being too flexible could cause chaos and have negative implications throughout your team. But the APhA has provided a great example of just how much “rolling with the punches” can make a difference for employees, and that’s what will help you retain the best and brightest future leaders.
What are some ways your association has tried to promote a flexible working culture? How do you feel about telework? Let us know in the comments!