Employers Over Promise Flexibility and Under Deliver

September 8, 2012

Employers:  Don’t Over Promise Flexibility and Under Deliver


Have you ever been promised something however it did not eventuate?  Not good is it?  Employers continue to over promise and under delivery, particularly in relation to flexibility and work life balance.  Employers must “sell” an opportunity to join their organisation, but they must do it in a way to set an actual picture of what it’s really like to work for their organisation in order to avoid unfulfilled expectations once a candidate has started and ultimately the new employee leaving shortly after.


Unfortunately I have been in this experience where I had outlined my request for flexibility in the recruitment process, in particular working a nine-day fortnight.  However once in the job, I was regularly made to feel bad for being granted flexibility and it was threatened to be taken away from me.  Now, I have been in HR for a number of years and I completely understand that business needs change, therefore so too do the business requirements of staff.  In saying that, if you know what is one of the top drivers why your people continue to come to work, and if it is flexibility and you’re no longer offering it or offering it to what you sold the opportunity on, then why would they continue to show up?  The reality is, you may score the best candidate, but if they’re going to leave in a couple of months due to unfulfilled promises, then was it really worth it?  The cost of replacing may be enough for you to reconsider the implications of over promising.


I like to consider the relationship between an employee and an employer as a customer and supplier.  If you were promised something that was important to you when you bought a product or service and it did not get delivered, then it would only make sense that you would take it back or no longer use the service.  This is the same for employers.  They must present an accurate people about their employment offer, and whether it is saying “Flexibility is important to us, and we do work long hours, however staff are able to use some time during the day to attend personal appointments should they wish”.  This is a lot better than saying “We offer great flexibility and we work a standard working week”.


Unfortunately sometimes employers do over promise and under deliver and I hear stories about this regularly, including yesterday in fact that prompted me to write this article!  Employers out there, please make sure you promote what makes it great about coming to work for your organisation, but do this in a way that is realistic and will actually reflect the experience the candidate will have once they join the organisation.

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