ATTRACTING and retaining good employees continues to be a top priority for organisations across all industries. Recruiting the best talent is only half the battle; keeping them is the other half.

Flexible working arrangements can be successful in keeping your key staff. An increasing demand for a pro-family environment, a dearth of talent, the problem of poaching and the high cost of attrition can entice firms to adopt these arrangements.

Here are some points to consider when implementing them:

1. A fitting arrangement

For any alternative work arrangements to work, employers must first identify their suitability. It should not interfere with the effectiveness of work relationships, and employers must ensure staff can cope with the flexibility.

2. Employee satisfaction

Employee retention is centred on individual satisfaction. Organisations must recognise the clash between life and work and be prepared to deal with their employees' personal commitment, like childcare and eldercare.

3. Responsible parties

Planning and executing flexible work arrangements should be a collaborative effort between managers and the human resource (HR) department. HR staff can help managers gain a perspective on how an alternative work plan can benefit the organisation.

4. Communication

Communication is crucial for flexible work arrangements to work. Both the employee and manager must have clear expectations of the new role and set key performance indicators (KPIs).

Managers must also keep in touch with employees during a flexible arrangement. Work plans have to be constantly reviewed and revised as well.

5. Provide adequate support

The failure of some employee retention programmes is partly attributed to a lack of support from the executive management team. Management support is crucial, as it demonstrates to employees that the firm will do what it can to ensure employee job satisfaction.

Managers are more likely to embrace and implement a flexible schedule if the management team authorises it.

6. Equip the employees

Staff who choose a flexible work arrangement need specific technology to do their jobs effectively and stay connected with their team and manager.

Alternative work plans

There are several types of flexible work arrangements that should be assessed for the suitability of different groups of staff.

To enhance their talent pool, firms can consider adopting part-time work arrangements to attract fitting candidates who are unable to commit to full-time hours. Part-time work is also a good way to ease senior employees into eventual retirement.

Similarly, flexible working hours allow employees to work at times that suit them, offering a better work-life harmony. Employers can benefit from this arrangement, as they are able to offer additional services to clients or extend operating hours or both.

Working from home is another viable option that enables employees to keep a closer eye on things at home while enjoying greater autonomy at work. At the same time, employers save costs on office space, recruitment and training.

Reaping the benefits

Adopting flexible work arrangements can impact employee performance and engagement significantly. By leaving work organisation to their employees, companies become more focused on performance instead.

The trust and empowerment given to employees encourage freedom and promote satisfaction. This affects engagement and productivity positively.

The benefits of flexible work arrangement are not for employees alone. Companies that have implemented flexible working arrangements have an increased ability to attract, retain and motivate high performers and experienced candidates.

Firms also enjoy reduced absenteeism, as employees no longer have to take time off to fulfil their personal commitments, therefore improving staff well-being and increasing productivity.

Making it work

With today's technological advances, flexible work arrangements are more widely practised.

However, employers need to recognise that flexible work arrangements are not always appropriate for all employees, jobs or industries.

Employees must be aware that separating work and personal time can be challenging. They must be able to meet deadlines with minimal supervision as well.

To help staff cope with the isolation that comes with alternative work arrangements, managers should maintain adequate contact with them.

The best option is to try out flexible working arrangements on a trial basis, so that managers and staff can evaluate the success of the programme.