Employers should bend over backwards to help all employees work flexibly

While the PR industry is becoming increasingly open to the idea of flexible working, there remains a perception that it applies only to women, leaving male employees to suffer in silence.

For many, ‘flexible working’ conjures up the idea of career mums wanting to spend less time in the office and more time with their children. Even though flexible working offers the same benefits to every employee, there’s still a perception it only caters for this particular demographic.

Despite the PR industry becoming more open to the idea of flexible working, openly discussing it when an employee first joins the company remains a little too much for most. As for the ‘just starting out graduate’ or the ‘male employee in his mid-twenties’ wanting that same level of flexibility? No chance.

There are more articles than I can count extolling the benefits of flexible working – no one needs me to spell it out. However, what does need spelling out is that any employee, at any stage of their career, should be able to work flexibly.

This year’s crop of fresh-faced graduates, about to take the plunge into the world of PR, will be working for the next 50 years. By any standard that is a long time, and to make sure that five, ten or 15 years down the line we aren’t faced with a generation of unhappy and burnt-out PRs needing to ‘find themselves’, the industry must move to quash the flexible working stereotype.

The phrase ‘man up’ has an awful lot to answer for; it means that many of my male employees have a ‘power through’ attitude that benefits no one. Droves of men in PR suffering in silence does nobody – neither employers nor employees – any good. Men have exactly the same needs as women when it comes to striking the work/life balance and the view that stoically working 9 to 5 is a sign of strength has got to go.

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By Narelle Morrison

Published: August 7, 2015

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