The Flexible Working Story of the GM of The Star Entertainment Group

For Rohan Dyster, GM Organisational Development & Learning at The Star Entertainment Group, working flexibly is the new normal. He works a full week compressed into four days, so that both he and his wife can balance family life and pursue their individual career goals.

Flexible working has been such a positive experience, professional and personally, that he’s become an advocate and role model in his organisation.

The personal motivation

“The idea of working flexibly began as a way to support my wife in her career. My wife wanted to take on a great new role but she said to me, ‘I can’t do it with the way you work’. So I looked at how I could change that. I talked with my leader, who was very supportive, and we agreed to a compressed week. I work Tuesday to Friday, and on Mondays I make my kids breakfast, drop them at school, do the pick up – and I really enjoy it. I look forward to Mondays.”

The win-win at work

Enriching his personal life was one great outcome. There was another, equally important, win.

“A couple of months into it, my boss and I reviewed how it was working. She said to me, ‘your team really steps up now, they don’t wait till Tuesday for you, they just go ahead and do it’.

"What started as a solution to a personal problem really gave my team an opportunity to develop and grow. More than half of my team work flexibly now.”

Walking the talk

Rohan says role modelling how flexible work can work well in his business is crucial to making it become part of the normal conversation.

“This is the second year we’ve done a Diversity & Inclusion survey and already we’re seeing small improvements in perception and acceptance around flexible work. We’ve been a lot more vocal about role modelling, and the more conversations we have, the more we see how many people have been working flexibly under the radar, where there are good leaders making it happen.”

Amplifying the conversation and making it happen

A year ago Rohan and his team started holding quarterly Flexibility Forums with senior leaders.

“They’re part education, part ‘let’s work together to mainstream flexibility’. We include a lot of people with strong operational leadership – one in particular shared her experience of working flexibly and leading effectively in a senior operational role. She was named Leader of the Year in one of the Star’s properties, so we know it can work for Operational roles, not just office-based roles.

“Off the back of the Flexibility Forums we’re running a number of pilot groups – rather than looking just at individuals, we’re taking whole teams and saying how can this whole team work flexibly. That’s how we think we can make it work really well, and for more people in the future.”

Leading flexibility

“There’s no job in our organisation that cannot have some form of flexibility, from ExCo to all the frontline roles. The question for us is, how do we prepare our leaders, when people ask to work flexibly, to respond from an organisational perspective rather than in individual ways?

“We’re open for business 24/7, all year round, so we operate with a mindset of ‘someone’s always got to be here’. Depending on the type of job you do, in our organisation the way people work will often be quite different. That’s why we’ve started defining flexible work as ‘having a degree of choice over when, where and/or how we work’ – which gives people an opportunity to say, ‘you’ve asked for X, we can’t give you that, but we can give you this’.”

Rohan also points out the importance of language and context in changing mindsets.

“There are over 9,000 people in our organisation and that number is growing. It’s an interesting organisational dilemma – when you have a growth agenda, leaders typically measure increasing head count as a positive sign of growth. But as we work more flexibly, and people increasingly choose part-time work, in our business there will be an increase in headcount, but not necessarily in Full Time Equivalents (FTE). We need to talk to leaders about why FTE, and performance outcomes, are a better way of talking about growth than headcount.

What counts in the ‘new norm’

The Star Entertainment Group is now gearing up for national Flexible Working Day 2018, profiling people who work flexibly around their properties, and taking the opportunity to do a soft launch of their new flexibility framework.

Rohan’s key takeaways for leading the ‘new norm’ of flexibility are:

  • Change the mindset – when people hear flex work, they hear ‘working from home’ – let’s address the organisation’s understanding of what flexible work means and how people manage it.
  • Role model – allow everyone the confidence to be more vocal about role modelling and showing what effective flexible works looks like
  • Take a team approach – to shift an organisation, look at whole teams and see how they can work flexibly, rather than focusing only on individuals

The message Rohan leads with is that flexibility is the norm and we should be able to help people work in a way that suits them.

“A leader’s job is directing individuals towards an outcome, not making them conform to a set way of getting there.

National Flexible Working Day is on Wednesday 6 June.

Join the national conversation via social media.

#FWDay2018 #FlexWorkFullLife #GenderFlexGap #TackleFlexism