The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) report into why women’s participation in the mortgage broking industry is declining found that, with an ageing workforce, increasingly shared parental responsibilities and changing expectations of future recruits, being able to work flexibly is the most highly valued attribute of working in the industry, for both women and men.
So, as the workforce continues to transition and change, employers in the broking industry will need to ensure this is a standard offering in the workplace.
As a senior leader at AMP Bank and a father of two girls, I have personally benefited from the way my organisation has prioritised and advocated for formal and informal flex arrangements for all people, at all levels.
For me, informal flex enables me to be the dad and partner I want to be. It allows me to be there to drive my kids around, attend their various school activities and commitments and support my wife when she needs it. It also enables me to be flexible about where I work – be it from AMP’s headquarters at Sydney’s Circular Quay, Parramatta, or from home – without feeling the pressure of ‘presenteeism.’
The benefits of flexible working are well known: flexible work arrangements boost employee productivity, engagement and retention and when flex is granted to all, it shows across the business.
To attract and retain top talent, a flexible work culture needs to be “the norm”.
Here are my top three tips for making workplace flexibility a reality:
It must be driven from the top
An important element to our flex success is the way it’s been driven from the top. Our MD, Sally Bruce, and our whole bank leadership team, have been strong advocates and critical in embedding a culture that allows these arrangements to work across all levels – for parents, part-time students, pre-retirees looking for opportunities to pursue other passions, and everybody in between.
This support can reduce any stress and guilt around “letting the side down” across all levels of the business.
Ensure the right processes are in place to make it work
Maintaining rhythms helps manage formal and informal flex arrangements.
Also, be flexible around the way meetings are scheduled and attended. If a member of my team can’t attend a meeting, they know to prepare ahead of time and send somebody in their place to make sure they have their input where required. It works and means our team doesn’t miss a beat.
Make sure you have the technology in place to support flex
Technology can be both an enabler and disabler when it comes to flexibility.
When it works well, technology can boost remote and flex work arrangements. However, the challenge for many businesses is leveraging technology to its fullest potential and working around it on the occasions it fails.
Sean O’Malley is AMP Bank’s director of operations and technology. He has over 20 years’ experience across financial services, largely in operations, contact centres, sales and transformation leadership roles.
Sean joined AMP in 2013 to lead a multi-year transformation program focused on growth and efficiency across the group. He has held various directorships at AMP including leading AMP’s contact centres and operations transformation, with a focus on customer experience.