A Persuasive Case for Flexibility

August 19, 2022

Just about everyone finds the need to persuade action from another on almost a daily basis. Yet, often within companies, the front line to middle management are more reserved in promoting change if it hasn’t come from the senior executives. Everything about business is changing and team members and leaders should take heart in following the path of a team at PAM Transport.
The following is a depiction of a persuasive presentation delivered by a team of leaders as part of their participation in a High Performance Leadership Workshop. It is worth sharing as it is data-driven, passionate, and convincing. It may be useful to you in persuasively gaining alignment in your organization.
The topic was how to get leadership alignment on how to deal with flexible work schedules and the future of work.
The team (known as the Plant Daddys) consisted of Chelsea Wood, Ava Robinson, Cole Fritschen, Laurel Walker, Andrew Christensen, and Luis Lopez.
Cole started by asking the audience what financial improvements they would like to achieve. The usual responses surfaced: reduce turnover, improve productivity and profitability, achieve the company’s goals and objectives, etc. After gaining audience engagement, the team’s goal was to set the stage for creating a high performance workplace.
Cole made the following statements: “We believe that creating a culture of high trust for the future will promote success and it was clear that having the right people in the right seats at the right time is imperative. This must be done by looking at the changing workforce, in particular, the younger generations. Data from these generations shows that 67% feel that flexible work schedules enable better work-life balance. Sixty-three percent of job seekers are looking for roles that provide either remote or work-from-home opportunities. Through the pandemic, our children have had to learn to adjust to a flexible school schedule. These changes brought on by both the pandemic and the expectations of younger generations are key.” Based on Cole’s personal passion and the data, his audience couldn’t disagree.
But he wasn’t done. “Flexibility means different things to different people. Too often leaders try to create a policy or structure when, in reality, one size doesn’t fit all.” Cole and his team were proposing that leaders should be clear about expected outcomes and leave it to the team of adults to determine how to achieve them. By managing outcomes and results (vs. activity and process), they proposed having a people-first, performance-driven culture would lead to greater growth and profitability. Team members will drive accountability among themselves to achieve desired outcomes regardless of where they are working.
Keeping executives as the audience in mind, Ava said, “the beautiful thing about what we’re discussing is it doesn’t cost us a dime. The power to create a high-performance environment exists through aligned leadership is fully within our capability.” He then went on to be specific about principles in which all organization leadership needed to have in alignment:
1. Create a Flexible Workspace. This is the type of bold, creative and transformative change that the company needs to implement to remain in a position that can continually move the needle.
2. Trust our People. Ava observed that Trust was one of the company’s key leadership principles. He noted that trust is a two-way street and asked, “What are we doing to demonstrate we trust our team members?”
3. Empower Managers. Leaders of functional teams should have the autonomy to implement department-specific flexible workspace options while providing clear and concise high performance expectations. Soon, the teams could develop scheduled that are optimum for both each individual and the company.
4. Be Brave. Leaders drive change. They don’t bury their head in the sand relying on what has worked in the past. Advocating a change process they had learned, they emphasized that:
• Everyone listening is AWARE that change is needed in order to be competitive with other employers when procuring high-quality talent.
• Everyone UNDERSTANDS that, although 2021 has been a record year, it will be a short-lived celebration if unable to add more talented individuals and retain current quality staff.
• Everyone must COMMIT to securing and retaining high performing employees by appealing to what matters most to them, maybe even more than money – their time.
The room was silent after Ava’s impassioned speech.
Still not done, Chelsea went on to describe the fact that the Recruiting Department had been able to expand their hiring pool by using remote team members. Having remote team members enabled coverage of multiple time zones and, when measuring results, performed comparably and sometimes favorably to the in-house team. Turnover has been minimal.
Recognizing that the company had a success story prior to the pandemic had an impact.
Andrew described the benefits.
Stating that productivity was probably the main concern in creating more flexible work schedules, he cited data from Global Workplace Analytics. As a result of 4,000 studies and reports, some specific examples were offered:
• Best Buy, British Telecom, and Dow Chemical shoed that teleworkers are 35-40% more productive.
• Sun Microsytems found that employees were spending 60% of their commuting time performing work.
• American express workers produced 43% more than their office-based counterparts.
Andrew added, “On average, remote employees work an additional 1.4 days per month than an office employee. This is nearly 17 additional workdays per year.
Andrew went on to say that a flexible work environment reduces hiring costs incurred due to attrition.
• Losing a valued employee can cost an employer $15,000 at a minimum to hire a replacement.
• 14% of Americans have changed jobs to shorten the commute.
• 46% of companies that allow telework say it has reduced attrition.
“Another advantage in reducing turnover is employee satisfaction”, said Andrew. “People are sick of the rat race and eager to take control of their lives – desperate to find a balance between work and life. In fact, research shows that 36% would choose a flexible work environment over a pay raise. Eighty percent of employees consider telework a job perk. Over 70% of employees report that the ability to telecommute will be somewhat to extremely important in choosing their next job.”
The team went on to describe how a flexible work environment reduces unscheduled absences. Unscheduled absences cost employers on average $1800/employee/year. The American Management Association reported that organizations that implemented a telework program realized a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences. And, they noted, that teleworkers typically continue to work when they’re sick (without infecting others) and return to work more quickly following surgery or medical issues.
“We want to increase employee empowerment,” said Andrew. “Remote work forces people to be more independent and self-directed.
The final benefit was hammered home during these difficult times of recruiting talent. “Teleworking expands the talent pool”, said Andrew. “It reduces geographic boundaries and offers cultural diversity that would not otherwise be possible.”
Luis concluded with a strong message: “Life is constant change and history has taught us that we need to adapt to survive. As evidenced by data regarding corporate longevity and the story of Blockbuster’s rise and fall, the ability to adapt is also key to a company’s survival. The labor force of yesterday is not the same as today. Digital work was already advancing — Covid only sped this process up. Today we have Generation Z, the digital generation, and the new digital workforce. If we are not smart enough to understand and act on this, our competitor will take the best talent. Students in college are already working with flexible schedules so let me ask you, what kind of work do you think they will prefer upon graduation?”
In summary, the team affirmed from personal experience that working from home opens the door to deeper thinking (vs. order-taking). Adopting this approach and shifting our mindset has true benefits, including:
• A motivated team member
• Better levels of efficiency (reduced commutes as an example)
• Increased productivity (optimal individual productivity has its own schedule)
• Decreased absenteeism (due to illness and stress)
• Success in achieving goals (for team members and the organization)
• Profitability
Laurel anchored, “By cultivating a work-life balance, we open our company to being so much more desirable to the high performer as well as leading us in bridging the generational gap.

The presentation was extremely well received.

What made it so persuasive was the team approach and research with a delivery that conveyed passion, conviction, and determination.

Using a persuasive presentation can drive change.  All you need is a team of trusted colleagues, solid research, and the courage of your conviction.