As part of our commitment to helping personal assistants progress their career, we are working with Birkbeck, University of London, to offer advice on professional development. Here, we look at how to secure a flexible working arrangement from an employer:
Continuous professional development (CPD) is vital for ambitious PAs looking to improve their skills and expand beyond their current roles. However, the reality is that accommodating many CPD programmes, such as a professional course or qualification, into an already busy schedule can be hard.
Flexible working offers clear advantages for those trying to juggle work, home and development obligations. Organisations are also increasingly recognising the business benefits of flexible working, including increased productivity and morale, and lower staff turnover rates.
It has never been such a good time to request flexible working from an employer: but how exactly should this be approached?
1. Identify true professional value
Studies have shown that employees often underestimate their competencies and thus the value they bring to their organisations. PAs should consider their strengths, and exactly how these benefit their employer. They should also record specific instances of achievements, and ask colleagues and managers to provide feedback.
An honest assessment of professional value will not only arm them with the confidence needed to negotiate flexible working with their employer, but will also identity areas of weakness their corresponding CPD programme can improve upon.
2. Outline the details
It is vital that they submit a specific and detailed proposal. They should try to put themselves in their employer’s shoes. What would they want to know in their employers’ situation? Employers should be informed of when exactly flexible working is needed, how long for, and what exactly this time will be used for.
3. Sell the plan
Next, carefully and clearly articulate the business case for the new arrangement. This includes alleviating any doubts that it will negatively impact output – instead, an employer should feel reassured that there will be no disruption to workload. Instead, a PA should demonstrate exactly how and why flexible working will help them do their job even better, and ultimately improve the organisation’s bottom line.
4. Be prepared to negotiate
Prepare alternative solutions, in case an employer remains unconvinced by a flexible working proposal. Try to remain flexible with any requests, and consider that whilst an employer may be open to the idea, making it work will be up to the individual. Consider offering a trial period, perhaps starting with a small amount of flexible working to minimise risk and prove benefits first.
5. Look for external opportunities
Finally, PAs should try to recognise that their current job may not be conducive to professional development. An employer may not always be supportive of their ambitions, or willing to offer constructive ways to support career progression. If this is the case, they should consider working with an expert recruiter to find a workplace which offers such benefits and is a better cultural fit for them.
Look out for the next article in this series produced in association with Birkbeck and contact them to find out more about their evening study options in Bloomsbury, Central London, or Stratford, East London.
To speak about how best to progress your PA career, find your local recruiting expert here.