Media and Communications Manager
Leading employers are proving that any job can be worked flexibly, even if it’s on a construction site.
Representatives from MSD and Mirvac shared their experiences at a recent Workplace Gender Equality Agency ‘Too Hard Basket’ event.
Glenn House, a second generation carpenter and now Construction Manager for Mirvac, says that construction has always had a tough image.
"You arrive in the dark and leave in the dark," he said.
To address this Mirvac created a My Simple Thing program in which each construction worker could nominate one thing that would enable flexibility for them.
The workers were then asked to put their simple thing on an excel spreadsheet that everyone on site could see. After rolling out the program with an educational workshop and roadshow, the team still faced some cultural push-back as employees felt they weren’t really allowed to work flexibly.
"It had to be visual to be believed," Glenn said. "Employees had to see that a site manager could hop on his bike and cycle away at the end of his day on his flex arrangement before they would believe it was okay."
The need for managers to lead by example was also an important driver of flexible working for MSD, a pharmaceutical company.
Paul Hester, Director for Primary Care, MSD, said that creating flexibility was vital for them to increase the number of women in sales manager roles.
But when considering implementing flex in their sales team the number of hours that sales staff should work, and the potential cost to the business, were all raised as concerns.
To change ingrained attitudes that sales manager roles couldn’t be worked flexibly, MSD created a champions of change group in which business leaders shared experiences.
"People see through you if it’s just words,” he said. “We moved roadshows because someone on the country leadership team had already had time with their kids booked in. In the past we would’ve moved it and hidden the reason why. Now everyone knows this stuff is important."
To make flexible working a reality for their staff MSD also reduced sales territory sizes in places and adjusted sales targets.
Both Mirvac and MSD have since seen a rise in rates of staff engagement since implementing flexible working and in the last 18 months MSD have seen their numbers of female sales managers increase significantly.