The Role of the Manager/Supervisor

Job flexibility has proven to be a powerful business tool to get work done and to support business goals.

Remember that the business needs of your department should remain your top priority. Use these guidelines, as well as input from your own supervisor/manager and team, to help you develop a consistent approach.

While your criteria for approving individual flexible work arrangements should be consistent, every employee request is unique and should be carefully considered on its own merits. When uncertain, it can be helpful to establish a trial period, typically between three and six months, to assess the impact of the flexible work arrangement. Each flexible work arrangement should be evaluated on an ongoing basis, and can be altered or terminated at any time when performance, business, or other concerns arise.

Important things to consider when reviewing a request for a flexible work arrangement:

  • Review process: Consider each proposal for a flexible work arrangement on its own merits, and establish consistent criteria in order to give equal consideration to all requests. If you have questions, ask for assistance or guidance from your Human Resources Officer or colleagues experienced with flexible work options.
  • Health-related issues: If the employee’s proposal seems to address any health issues or disabilities, such as flexing time to attend regular medical appointments, contact your Human Resources Officer for assistance.
  • Workplace continuity: You may need to consult your own manager/supervisor regarding details of the proposal to ensure consistency within your office or department and to gain approval for the proposed arrangement.
  • Potential benefits: Consider the potential benefits of the proposed work arrangement, including reduced absenteeism and turnover, as well as increased productivity and morale.
  • Response time: Respond to each proposal in a timely manner, to keep the employee informed of its status.
  • Criteria for approving flexwork arrangements: While each flex proposal should be evaluated on its own merits, it is important to establish clear criteria to guide the approval process, and to apply these criteria consistently to all proposals. As you develop your criteria, it can be helpful to gather input from the team on operational needs, such as coverage and communication, and to share the criteria with all staff and invite feedback.
  • Handling multiple proposals: Consider the group of proposals together. Do they meet coverage requirements for the office? Are there any gaps? If so, involving employees in the conversation may help you to identify solutions to problems that managers/supervisors may not consider on their own. For more information on managing multiple flexible employees, see Team-Based Flexibility.
  • Be open to change: The successful implementation of flexibility will involve making some adjustments along the way. Make sure to solicit feedback from employees, including all group members, monitor success, and address any issues as they arise. Make time to discuss how the arrangement is working, and allow for adjustments where necessary.
  • Focus on results: Set clear performance outcomes so that the employee and supervisor have measurable goals.
  • Declining proposals: If you decline the request, you have the option to encourage the employee to rework the proposal based on your feedback or to resubmit the proposal at a better time. In any event, every effort should be made to ensure that the employee understands the criteria upon which your decision was based.