Alternative Work Strategies Policy Statement
The Division of Student Affairs has a commitment to cultivating organizational health. As such Student Affairs recognizes that staff members may face competing demands from their work and personal lives and supports alternative work strategies where possible.
Alternative work strategies are a key component of work/life effectiveness and a source of many added benefits, such as improved productivity, enhanced staff engagement, and opportunities for cross training.
This policy was developed to standardize the process for managing Alternative Work Strategies across the division. It is intended to be used for ongoing variations to the usual work arrangement.
All staff occupying a benefits eligible position within Student Affairs are affected by this policy.
Alternative Work Strategies
An agreement initiated by the employee between the employee and employer of a variation to the usual work arrangement. Examples include: remote work, flextime, compressed workweek, part-time work, and job sharing. Leaves of absence and accommodations including medical leaves and disability accommodations are managed separately and are not alternative work strategies.
- Staff must be benefits-eligible employees in good standing to be eligible for an alternative work strategy.
- Staff must be assigned a work assignment and location that is conducive to alternative work strategies.
- Staff may request an Alternative Work Strategy by submitting a completed Alternative Work Strategies Request Form to their direct supervisor.
- All requests will be reviewed by the appropriate SALT member and Student Affairs Human Resources. Staff will receive a written response to their submitted request.
- The requested alternative work strategy must be consistent with unit goals and not reduce staff productivity.
- The approved request does not create a contract for employment.
- Alternative work strategies are not guaranteed and can be modified or discontinued by Student Affairs at any time. Every practical effort will be made to give advanced notice of a modified or discontinued Alternative Work Strategy.
- If a request is not approved, staff may choose to submit a new request being sure to address the reasons the original request was not approved.
- Supervisors and employees will discuss approved Alternative Work Strategies quarterly and will resubmit the request after 12 months. No approval will be indefinite.
- Receiving approval does not set precedent for future approval.
- Staff with an approved alternative work strategies remain obligated to comply with all University and Student Affairs rules, policies, and procedures.
- Staff must review and adhere to the University’s Alternative Work Strategies policy.
Consequences of Violating this Policy
Alternative Work Strategies are a benefit offered by Student Affairs to help staff balance the demands of their personal life with their work life. Any violations of this policy or the approved agreement may result in loss of eligibility, revocation of the alternative work strategy, or corrective action up to and including termination.
Violations may include but are not limited to:
- Any misrepresentation of information during the request process.
- Decrease in productivity or performance.
- Decrease in responsiveness or accessibility.
- Failure to accommodate department needs during peak and/or required periods.
- Violation of university or Student Affairs rules, policies, or procedures.
- Loss of good standing.
- Northwestern University Staff Handbook section 9.1 Flexible Work Arrangements
- Northwestern University Policy on Alternative Work Strategies
The Office of Student Engagement piloted a flextime program in 2016. The purpose of this program was to establish guidelines of how staff could support students during evening and weekend hours while still meeting the needs of the department. The pilot was viewed as a success. Staff satisfaction ratings around the number of hours worked has consistently improved without the loss of productivity in the Student Engagement area.
In 2018, Student Affairs set a division priority of developing a better understanding of flexible work arrangements and creating communications of the existing HR policies. Several Student Affairs departments and their leadership collaborated on the development of a flexible work arrangement policy. Student Affairs introduced its first Flexible Work Arrangement Policy in September of 2019.
In 2021, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Student Affairs reframed its policy to match the University’s new guidance on Alternative Work Strategies.