Flexible, Capable, Adaptable: A Dynamic Allied Health Workforce
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Objective: The Allied Health Executive at a major Metropolitan Health Service was experiencing an increasing number of flexible work requests and was keen to ensure that local and legislative requirements were met, our highly skilled and specialist staff were supported to remain in the workforce as their life outside work changed and the operational demands of a bed-based service delivery model were not negatively impacted.
Design: A root cause analysis was completed identifying three main contributing factors for the current, adhoc approach to flexible work requests. Current and past flexible work participants were surveyed, along with their managers and the Nurse Unit Managers of the clinical work areas. A literature review and environmental scan regarding frameworks for decision making for and supporting flexible work requests was undertaken.
Findings: There was a lack of consistent information as to how to establish and manage a flexible work request. There had been an historical view that flexible work requests were difficult to operationalise and there were missed experiences with flexible work arrangements for the people involved, their managers and their colleagues.
Outcome measures: The combined data was then utilised to develop a framework to support decision-making around whether a role could operate as a flexible work arrangement. A framework on how to best support the staff considering and entering into these arrangements to ensure all the benefits of a flexible work arrangement are realised and many of the challenges minimised was also developed.
Conclusion: Flexible work arrangements should be considered in appropriate circumstances, and will have the best opportunity for success when supported by a consistent, evidenced-based framework.
Abbreviations: EFT – Equivalent Full Time; RCA – Root Cause Analysis.