Home' HR Monthly : February 2017 Contents of men felt they
acceptance as carers
in their workplace
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
ABOUT WORKFORCE FLEXIBILITY
Access information sheets, guidelines and
templates on flexible work practices under the
National Employment Standards, via AHRI's
members-only resource AHRI: ASSIST. You can
also ask questions online.
Long-held societal norms of breadwinners and caregivers remain
a barrier to change. Indeed, Monash University's 'Fathers, Work
and Care' study of more than 900 Australian fathers, found that
only 16 per cent felt they recieved equal acceptance as carers in their
workplace when compared to women.
The impetus for change, says Tanner, needs to come from men,
who must adjust their own attitudes if they want their desire for more
balance to become a reality. This includes overcoming assumptions
that their part-time or flexible work request won't be accepted or that
the arrangement won't be successful for their particular role.
While scaling back is harder for some roles and within certain
industries, it's often more attainable than first presumed, he says.
"People just need to learn how to think differently about their jobs.
Particularly senior people."
HR can demonstrate that work options other than full-time
are genuinely open to both genders by encouraging men in senior
positions to work part-time or flexibly, says Tanner. Showcasing
best practices and case studies in an organisation, and measuring
subsequent positive engagement will also help.
Flexibility has become a fundamental part of working at NAB in
recent years. Eighty-six per cent of the bank's staff work flexibly,
with a higher proportion of males doing so (88 per cent compared to
84 per cent of females). Scott Butterworth, acting chief risk officer,
customer products and services, says working flexibly helps him to be
a better dad.
"I can pick up my two boys from school, go on school camps with
them and take part in other activities that are important to my kids,"
WHO'S THE BREADWINNER?
The big rise in the number of female breadwinners (25 per cent of
Australian households in 2013) is helping relieve the pressure on men
who don't want to work full-time.
While power couples, such as those
mentioned here, undoubtedly have the benefit
of paid childcare to draw on, they are examples
of the increasing ebb and flow of careers, where
one partner may take a back seat for a period
while the other develops their career.
Victoria Beckham's fashion designer career
has gone from strength to strength, allowing
husband David Beckham, whose soccer career
has wound down, to devote more time to his
Denis Thatcher was a successful businessman
who took a back seat when his wife, Margaret
Thatcher's political career started to take o .
Although he says he struggled with the demands
made on her time during the early years, he soon
came to realise that more time on the golf course
wasn't such a poor trade-o ....
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, had an
arrangement with her now deceased husband,
David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, to split
household chores. Goldberg said that his portion
of the childcare amounted to 40 per cent with
Sandberg taking on the larger share.
he says. The benefits to NAB, he believes, are a more loyal and
But alleviating other colleagues' concerns are still a challenge.
"I think that men are sometimes, incorrectly in my view, worried
about the impact of flexible working on their careers and career
progression," says Butterworth.
His advice to any man wanting to change his work pattern.
"First, start with what is important to you and to your family,
and then think about how flexible working might fit into that.
Ultimately, if you are more balanced in your life, you will be a more
effective employee and that will enable you to do well, both in your
personal and work lives."
For Tim Gorst, senior manager wealth transformation, knowing
that his manager had once worked part-time and was an advocate
for it meant he had "no concerns at all" about requesting a four-
day week or that it would hurt his career.
Gorst started taking Fridays off last year. Although it meant less
income, he says moving more of his time to his family seemed like
"the right thing to do" after working at NAB full-time for 20 years.
"I'm married with three children aged eight, 12 and 14, so there
are good reasons to spend more time out of the office," he says. "I
also live near the beach and like to go surfing to stay healthy."
Gorst makes his role work by being "a little more ruthless" when
prioritising his time. "This includes purging some of the lower-
value activities that were part of my full-time working week."
He takes accountability for only taking on work he knows he
can deliver in four days and sets clear expectations about delivery
timelines. It's also important that he remains flexible. Sometimes,
he'll work an extra day (which he later gets back in lieu) when
needed or take calls on his day off.
Given that some male colleagues are interested in one day having
a similar arrangement, he's happy to prove it's a realistic option.
"For some, the timing maybe isn't quite right. For others it might
be more of a confidence thing. I can show my colleagues how to
make it work." •••
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