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Mahima Sharma
9 May 2018 . 1 min read

Flexible Work Hours: How To Negotiate With Your Employers


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Adults responsible for looking after elderly parents/relatives as well as working moms face immense pressure daily while trying to strike a work-life-balance. Thus, they are pushing for flexible work-hours. While few employers are taking notice; they understand that staff satisfaction and retention are interlinked and happy employees are the assets to any organization. But, still most of the others employers are still ignorant of this need-of-the hour understanding.

So what do you in that case? First of all, you need to understand that the demands of a new global economy, the influx of millennials into the workforce as well the changing nature of labour. You need to understand how to inspire your employer that all these three parameters are linked to your shifting expectations and thus seek viable solutions towards a work-life-balance to increase productivity. You need to make your employer understand that if a company has to ensure attracting and retaining top-quality workers, the employers need to be open to the following for a thriving enterprise:

-- unconventional work hours

-- part-time schedules

-- or job-sharing

But how do you do this? It is not as easy as walking up to the Boss' or HR's desk...ask him/her and get a YES. The art lies in negotiation. Thus, arm yourselves with the steps below (a real-life experience of those who won what they needed!), before you hit the ASK button at the Boss' table:

1. RESEARCH

Srija Dalmia, an IT professional and a mother of an eight-month old in Kolkata, India explains this step. "I wanted to restart work after my daughter turned six-month old. I began my online research for companies having flexible work timings. I zeroed on two companies, but they were not entirely matching my required work timings. I joined one of them. And after putting in two months of quality work, I approached my Boss with a confident of getting what I achieved. I had made my space in the team and her YES was bound to happen as planned. This was made easier by the advice of those already working in the company, who gave an insight into my employer's mindset. And Bingo, I cracked the deal I needed."

2. A STRATEGIST WINS THE DEAL

A successful navigation in the waters of negotiation means planning ahead of time and working on a strategy. For instance, if you wish to work in evening say 2 PM to 10 PM daily, explain to your boss that you are the only one who will be available to clients even after usual work hours! And this will mean more clients in term of business, especially with the one from abroad, whose daily work hours will match with your evening ones!

"In short, offer evidence how a positive nod to you will improve productivity and organizational effectiveness. To ward off any possible dissent, approach the employer with a written plan on how a restructured schedule will add value to the organization," says Sumanta Das from Odisha, India. He is the HR head of Sementica Web Solutions and leads a small team of ten people, out of which eight were allowed flexible work hours after Sumanta intervened and convinced the CEO to retain these employees. One of these employees is looking after her aged parents who suffer from Alzheimer. Ah, God Bless You Sumanta!....prays my heart, after a telephonic chat with this employee, who got very emotional. Today, she alone is responsible for half the profit the company generates annually.

3.  APPROACH BOSS WITH A PROBLEM-SOLVING ATTITUDE

Sam D'Ville, Manager-in-Chief, Au Revoir Resorts in Europe informs me how his wife managed to negotiate and shift to a flexible work profile in a telecom company, where she had been serving for five years, before the birth of their children. They needed a flexible timing to alternately look after their newborn twins since they were not in a condition to afford a full-time Nanny.

"She ensured that rather than approaching her supervisor with a plan disputing the present office policies, she demonstrated how her presence in different work hours will be an advantage to the department, to the team as a whole. She approached the HR head with facts and figures in terms of gain of revenue and/or a client base. No wonder she succeeded and later ensured, that I succeeded with the same plan with my employers as well," laughs Sam, while I can hear his baby daughter chuckles in his arms, as he gives me an interview on phone.   

4. BE FLEXIBLE, TO SEEK FLEXIBLE

Sam's wife Susan Joanna D.Ville elaborates on the strategy," You need to understand not only the company culture but also the mindset of your supervisor as well as the HR person. While seeking flexibility, you cannot be rigid with your proposal. I wanted a 6AM-2/3PM or 2 PM TO 10/11PM  work schedule. I was given 7AM-4PM work shift. I had to be flexible, I knew this was closer to my wish than a NO. So I agreed to it. Also, before approaching the Boss be ready with a Plan-B and Plan-C, if your supervisors trash Plan-A!"

5. A SMALL COMPROMISE MEANS ADJUSTMENT

The very art of negotiation relies on both parties giving up something in order to achieve a bigger common goal.

"You might have to compromise on your sleep, on your personal time or maybe take a slight pay cut, if your Boss agrees to allow flexible work hours. You have to be thankful for the nod rather than crib about what you lost in turn. Small losses here are bigger gains elsewhere. Express gratitude to your seniors, work in a manner that shows your intent as a loyal, exemplary employee, whether you work from home or do that from the office," explains Monita S D'costa, a mother of a two-month-old. Monita has been allowed work from home since she also has to look after her mother-in-law who is totally bedridden after an accident last year. Monita happily took a 30% salary cut to work from home, "I knew the flow of money was important to look after these two, a little compromise it today my biggest gain."

6. DARE TO ASK, DON'T JUST PLAN

Documentary filmmaker Vaishali Sinha from Mumbai used to work with Balaji Telefilms once upon a time. When her son was born in 2013, he became her top priority. When he turned six months, Vaishali switched to documentary filmmaking - a freelance project. But her reporting manager wasn't very approachable by her looks. Vaishali was scared to ask her for anything beyond a pay hike! It took a serious illness of her son a year later, to approach her reporting manager and ask for allowing her to work from home, on days her Nanny would bunk work. Vaishali was surprised that her fear was wrong. Her boss didn't bat an eyelid, in saying yes. "Most of us don't dare to ask, even when our fool-proof plan is ready in our mind. I wish I had asked her the same a year back, my life would have been so much better!" smiles a jubilant Vaishali who has recently won an international word for scripting a documentary."

To wrap it all, I would like to give my personal and time-tested advice that comes from my life -experience: If you don't hear back from your boss or don't get a YES even after two approaches, don't lose hope. All you need to do is convince your boss to allow you a working a flexible schedule for say ten days - I CALL IT A TRIAL PERIOD - and take feedback from him how it worked. I assure you're, your whole-hearted performance in these ten days will be enough to convince him/her towards a permanent solution.

Do not forget to write to us if you have any further queries. And do share this piece, your share will help another life get better!


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Mahima Sharma
An award-winning Independent Journalist & Content Curator based in New Delhi. She is Ex-News Editor, CNN-News18 and ANI (a collaboration with Reuters) who comes with an experience of 14 years in Print, TV and Digital Journalism. She is the only Indian who finds a mention in the Writers' Club of Country Squire Magazine, United Kingdom. Sufi at heart, she also has some 30 poems to her credit at various reputed international podiums.

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