University of Vermont

Human Resource Services and Operations

Flexible Working Arrangement Guidelines for Supervisors

Flexible Working Arrangements: Guidelines for Supervisors and Managers

The flexible working arrangement principles and guidelines expressed on this website have primary application to non-represented staff. Staff who are represented by a bargaining unit should see their collective bargaining agreement for information about flexible working arrangements.

Overview Principles Options Staff SUPERVISORS Request Form

Thinking About Flexible Working Arrangements

  • Review the Flexible Working Arrangements Overview and Options to understand all the possibilities for flexible work arrangements and consider tips for how to best develop a flexible working arrangement.
  • For most work-life issues, there is not a single definitive answer. Often a variety of solutions are viable. Managers are encouraged to seek solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved. Discernment involves examining each situation individually, while keeping in mind the needs of the employee and the institution.
  • Consider the potential improvement to departmental business when assessing flexible working arrangement proposals from employees. Develop systems and structures that allow employees to respond to ever-changing work demands, such as having a back-up plan for coverage and communication. Communicate consistently about standards for accountability, quality, and timeliness.
  • Find creative ways to promote an environment in which all employees feel supported to request flexibility.
  • Include employees in the development and improvement of the department's flexibility offerings. When arrangements are made, clearly communicate them with all employees, so that they fully understand their role, how their work lives will be impacted, and the flexible work options available.
  • No reason given by an employee for requesting a flexible working arrangement should be dismissed out of hand. Managers should assess the priorities and the operational requirements of the business unit as a basis for granting/denying a flexible arrangement, and not base their decision solely on the reason for the request.
  • When making decisions about flexible working arrangements, focus on objective eligibility criteria (e.g., position, seniority, discipline history, performance record).
  • Knowing that everyone cannot have a flexible work arrangements, it is important that the decision-making process is logical and consistent for everyone. It is important that everyone's request is fairly considered, even though outcomes may vary.
  • Just because flexibility was tried with one employee in the past and didn't work, doesn't mean that the same outcome is inevitable if it is tried again—especially if the individual is well-matched with the flexible work arrangement. Incorporating lessons learned into future planning may improve the likelihood of future success.
  • Supervisors should consider redefining staffing success by job design and outcome; hours, visibility (face-time), process, and location are not measures of success. Business outcomes, employee productivity and engagement are among the factors that should be considered.
  • Poor performance should be addressed in a timely, constructive and ongoing way, not as a newly-introduced reason to refuse a request for flexibility. Performance-related concerns should be addressed separately, if the cause of the problem is not related to the flexible working arrangement.
  • Salary saved by a reduction of work hours may typically be used to pay temporary workers or to supplement the earnings of regular employees who assume additional duties. In planning budgets, however, the full salary should be maintained for those employees who expect to return to full-time status.
  • Management maintains the right to alter or discontinue a flexible working arrangement at any time based on University needs.
  • Managers should consider appropriate input from staff and contemplate phasing in scheduling changes whenever possible.
  • Arrangements must address possible overtime and deficit hours as they occur and all University policies and legal pay practices must be maintained.
  • Whenever possible, flexible working arrangements should be entered into on a trial basis in order to assess effectiveness, compliance, and benefits of the arrangement both to the individual and to the unit/organization.
  • Managers can encourage flexibility where feasible in order to support both the work being done in their area and the personal needs and interests of their employees.
  • Written agreements between staff and work units are recommended and should include the specifics of the flexible work arrangement, the rubric under which the program's success will be assessed, and a clear statement of expectations regarding attendance, scheduling, absence management, communication and other important considerations.

For More Information

If you are a manager or supervisor and you are interested in learning more about flexible working arrangements, e-mail HRS Management Consulting Solutions at Services that might be helpful include:

  • Assistance in determining staffing needs for your work unit
  • Appropriate alternative scheduling choices to meet the situation
  • Assistance in developing work agreements
  • Explanation of benefit eligibility for employees seeking alternative schedules
Overview Principles Options Staff SUPERVISORS Request Form



Last modified August 04 2014 04:37 PM