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It’s time for us to redefine the concept of ‘work-life balance’. Balance implies equal weight or time to both things, which isn’t always achievable. The quest for work-life balance can leave employees disheartened by the sense that the scales are always tipped too heavily in one direction, and the knowledge that neither aspect is getting the attention it deserves.
We firmly believe that being career driven and a completely committed family person shouldn’t be mutually exclusive—our goal when starting Ampersand was to intertwine and connect these two elements. We’ve built our business to be a progressive, market-leading employer for people who are at the pinnacle of their careers, and also starting families.
While the concept of flexibility seems straightforward, the execution can be much harder. So, how do business owners create a flexible workplace without sacrificing performance?
Commit to your company culture
Executive search recruitment is a burnout job—if you’re a top-performing recruiter it can be 24/7, so we put measures in place to support flexibility and ensure we can offer a sustainable career that doesn’t compromise our employees’ home life.
We walk the talk with a supportive, down-to-earth environment focused on flexibility and outcomes, not clock-watching. Staff have access to the database offline and the right tools of trade at home, which gives them the flexibility to work remotely as needed. We also take the time to thank the families of staff with a yearly event that recognises their support and effort behind the scenes.
We have also instigated a ‘dress for the moment’ philosophy—if you don’t have external meetings, dress in whatever you feel comfortable in. Lycra, jeans, you name it. It’s an agency environment without the pretension factor, and having this relaxed approach helps ensure the office is a place that our employees love coming to.
Why it works
Micro-management doesn’t breed successful (or happy) employees. When you have a sense of control and ownership over your work, it enables better relationships both at work and at home. Empowered employees tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work, which not only increases company productivity, it also means they aren’t taking their workday woes home with them at night.
Our staff stick around because not only do we reward results, we provide a supportive, flexible environment in which they can thrive. This reputation as a progressive workplace draws high-calibre candidates to us and ensures retention, which in turn provides a higher degree of in-house expertise and saves time and money on recruitment exercises, training, and reduces the need for performance management/mediation.
Food for thought
While our personal motivation to create a flexible progressive workplace stemmed from the desire to provide work-life integration for working parents, it’s important to note that in the ‘work-life integration’ equation, ‘life’ doesn’t just mean ‘family’. We all need time and space to pursue a rich and rewarding life outside of work, whether we have children or not. Access to flexible work arrangements should be available across the board without gender bias or a ‘ranking’ of requirements by perceived importance.
Ultimately, flexible workplaces pay for themselves with a positive, supportive company culture, motivated and productive employees, and a reputation that attracts and retains high-calibre candidates. There’s no downside.
Sarah Wilson, Co-Founder & Practice Director: Marketing