Flexible work consistently ranks among employees’ most valued job benefits. A manager who can negotiate customised work arrangements for their reportees can increase their reportee’s job satisfaction and commitment levels. Frequent employee-manager negotiations to accommodate employees’ flexibility requests helps to attract broader segments of the labour pool, progress more women into leadership roles, and retain mature-age workers beyond the traditional retirement age.

Most organisations invest considerable amounts of energy in crafting flexible work policies and promoting these policies among employees. Yet, employees frequently are unsuccessful in negotiating flexible work arrangements for themselves. One reason for this is, organisations usually invest less time in training managers to “receive the ask.” In the absence of skills and support, managers find it easier to say no – and so organisational policies fail to have their intended benefits.

The solution lies in improving the quality of employee-manager negotiations, and one way this can be done is through targeted skill-building, to help better prepare managers to “receive the ask” from employees.

This course is designed for first-line supervisors and middle managers who find themselves in positions where they need to negotiate flexible and differentiated policy use and implementation for their own subordinates. This course will help participants to develop skills to “receive the ask” from both those above and those below you in the organisational rank – such that you can negotiate flexible work arrangements without comprising fairness and the bottom line.

The course will help participants to move from a mindset that is governed by “policy application” to a collaborative negotiating mindset that allows them to shape, bend and develop policies and norms within the organisation for employee well-being, engagement and productivity.

UniSA Business is the only business school in South Australia accredited by both AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) – the world’s leading accreditation bodies recognising excellence in business and management education. This double accreditation demonstrates achievement of the highest international standards across teaching and learning, research, and stakeholder engagement, as well as a commitment to continuous improvement into the future.

 Business schools that earn these accreditations must undergo a rigorous review process undertaken by peers in the business education community and industry, to ensure they have the resources, credentials and dedication to deliver first-rate programs, knowledge creation and positive impact on business and society.

 These standards support UniSA Business to deliver on its mission, to innovate and engage, and to lead the business education community worldwide.

Program Benefits

Individual benefits:

This program will provide participants with practical steps to implement evidence-based strategies derived from theory from the field of psychology, particularly diversity and negotiation studies. It will facilitate them to learn from course facilitators and a diverse group of peer leaders. Participation in the program develops leaders and supervisors to:

  • improve negotiating flexible work arrangement requests from employees
  • develop strategies to encourage, engage and retain a diverse profile of employees while balancing the well-being need and productivity criterion
  • better handle upward, sideways and downward negotiations that are required in stakeholder management and essential to improving policy design and use.



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Organisational benefits:

Participation of your leaders/supervisors in this program will equip the organisation to:

  • Improve stakeholder management, create stronger workplace relationships and help to resolve conflicts
  • Retain a diverse profile of employees who are likely to become disengaged and unproductive if the managers are not skilled in negotiating flexible work arrangements
  • Develop a framework to understand how work policies need to be substantiated with effective manager-employee negotiations to balance the well-being needs of employees and the organisational productivity criterion.


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Key Information

Dates Delivery Location Cost (ex. GST) Who this is suited to

2 full days
9:00am to 4:30pm

This course is offered as a Custom option. Express your interest via the Enquire page.

UniSA Business 
City West Campus,
North Terrace, Adelaide 


Mid-senior leaders and managers

What you can expect

Participants will learn how to handle difficult negotiations with your reportees who request flexible work-arrangements as well as conversations with senior leadership and HR who may impose constraints in terms of policies. This workshop will allow participants to navigate sensitive requests while building long-term relationships through prevention of conflict escalation.

Participants will get the opportunity to hear from other peer leaders in the field on the best practices for overcoming challenges experienced during such negotiations. This will be complemented with a research-based framework for understanding the most common barriers for flexibility usage patterns and success.

Participants will also learn by doing, and the course will include experiential negotiation role-plays to help develop habitual negotiation skills and strategies.  The course will provide both the scientific theory and principals behind the strategies as well as the practical steps in implementing the strategies during negotiations.

Course Outline

Day 1: Strategies for managing flexible workplace arrangements

  • Framework for the key issues and challenges that emerge during manager-employee everyday negotiations
  • Evidence-based solutions for handling diverse request for work arrangements
  • Traps to avoid during negotiations – especially in multi-party multi-issue negotiations
  • Building trust during critical conversations and the role of emotion, power, policies, practices and relationships
  • Strategies for managing emotions during sensitive conversations

Day 2: Strategic for upward, sideways and downward influence and persuasion

  • How to influence policy development and use?
  • How to deal with multiple stakeholders and building strong coalitions with peers to develop creative applications of policies
  • How to balance fairness and equity while dealing with workplace arrangement request
  • How to move beyond narrow implementation of policy to bending and shaping policy to improve employee well-being and productivity


This course is fully catered, including morning tea and lunch.

Learn from the experts


Gary Edwards is a Conference Speaker, Leadership Mentor and Communication Coach, who specialises in helping businesspeople to improve their performance and increase corporate capability through more effective communication and leadership. 

A former lawyer and trained mediator, Gary has over 25 years’ experience in education and in business consulting in the public and private sectors, as well as working as a researcher in workplace learning, change management and professional performance. He is a Certified Speaking Professional (the highest level of designation from Professional Speakers Australia – PSA – the peak body for professional speakers in Australia) and is currently the national President of PSA. He is also a member of the Australian Speakers Hall of Fame. 

Gary’s areas of speciality include Facilitative Leadership, Negotiation and Influence, Conflict Resolution, Difficult Conversations, Collaborative Work Cultures and Trust-Based Relationships with Clients and Stakeholders. 

Gary’s past and present clients include BHP Billiton, IKEA, Coles Group, SA Water, University of Adelaide, SA Police, University of South Australia, BAE Systems, WorkCoverSA, CEO Institute, GP Partners, MIFSA, NT Health, SA Dental Service and many government departments. 


Cancellation Policy

The University of South Australia reserves the right to cancel events and issue refunds.  In the event that an attendee cannot attend, a substitute is welcome to attend in their place.  No refunds will be given unless 21 days notice is given in writing prior to the date of the planned event. If less than 21 days the fee can be used for the same course at a later stage, or another course of the same value.  


Submit an enquiry to find out more about our suite of programs.