Whether you’re a working mother, need to look after an elderly relative or even want to work on a side business, flexible working hours are a real bonus when juggling a hectic schedule.
If you’re thinking of broaching the subject with your boss, take notes from Hannah Martin. As Co-founder and Editorial Director of Talented Ladies Club – the website packed with daily advice and inspiration for working, freelance and business mums – she’s fine-tuned her five-step approach to getting your request approved. Read on for advice and get negotiating…
Plan your approach in advance
Before you even ask for a meeting with your manager, make sure you do your homework. Your first port of call should be to research your legal rights, and the grounds your application can be turned down on.
Then, what you want from your company, and how this could work. Try to anticipate any objections in advance, and think of a positive angle to them. Find actual, tangible benefits to your company in your proposed new working pattern, and plan out how you see it working.
Position it as a benefit
Employers can’t afford to lose talented team members, so make sure you position your request positively. Remind your manager how much you have achieved, and how committed you are to your company.
Don’t frame your request as necessary because you find work ‘too stressful’ or you’re ‘struggling to cope’. Instead explain how much more productive you could be with a different working set up, and what the company has to gain from it.
Explain how it would work
As you’ve planned your request in advance you know exactly how it can work, so explain this to your manager. Be specific about the hours you want to work and when – and demonstrate how it won’t have a negative effect on your work or your department. Quite the opposite; remember to highlight the benefits!
If you’re asking your employer to be flexible, then you need to be too. Yes you may believe you have drawn up the perfect working plan, but you may not have considered every angle, and it may not be quite so ‘perfect’ in your manager’s eyes.
So be prepared to discuss your plan and be open to looking to alternative ways of it working. And pick your battles – fighting tooth and nail over a small point may mean conceding on a bigger one later on.
Get your colleagues on board
It’s not just your manager who will be impacted by your working hours – it will affect your colleagues too. So make sure you get them on board. Discuss your thoughts with them before you make a formal application and ask them how this may affect how you work, and what you can do to make it easier on everyone.
If the rest of your team are on your side and are keen to resolve any problems, you’ll stand a greater chance of your employer saying yes.
This is also an important step for your own confidence. Knowing your fellow employees understand that, while you may leave earlier, you get the same amount of work done, and that they are happy for you to do so, makes it much easier to walk out the door without feeling bad.
Finally, some resources that may help…
Want to know your legal rights to request flexible working, how to make an application and how to appeal if you’re refused? You can read it here.