Flexible Working: what’s the big deal?

Everyone is talking about flexible working. Some employers are celebrating flexibility and being celebrated for it, whilst others tread slowly in fear of a drop in productivity if employees start controlling how and when they work. Employees however, are calling for it. Here I’m going to give you an employer’s introduction to flexible working and explain how it can have a positive impact on productivity and yes, even that all important bottom line.

What is Flexible Working?

You guessed it: the clue is in the title and there is no one-size-fits-all. Working flexibly is about adapting working time to accommodate the wider needs of the individual, enabling them to balance work and life more effectively. In each case it may include one or more of the following:

  • Annualised Hours
  • Job Sharing
  • Flexitime
  • Part time or Compressed hours
  • Phased Retirement
  • Shift Working
  • Staggered Hours
  • Term Time Working
  • Time off in Lieu
  • Working from Home
  • Zero Hours Contracts

Who is it for?

Flexible working is commonly associated with parents and carers, who have had the right to request flexible working since the UK government first introduced the legislation back in 2003. Yet it is not only those juggling care responsibilities who would like a flexible working pattern. CMI research has shown that 60% of employees want their employers to provide flexible working and with mobile technologies on the rise, it’s easier now than ever.

UK Legislation

Since June 2014, all UK employees who have been with their employer for at least 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working. This is known as ‘making a statutory application’. Employers are responsible for dealing with such applications in a ‘reasonable manner’, which may include an assessment, meeting with the employee and providing an appeal process. This is typically within 3 months and any agreed changes will be stipulated in revised terms & conditions issued to the employee.

Employees have the right to complain to an employment tribunal if they disagree with the outcome.

It is recommended that employers have a Flexible Working policy. If you don’t have a suitable policy, need advice on handling flexible working requests or would like to create a flexible workplace for your employees, contact People² to discuss a tailored solution.

What are the employer benefits?

Fortunately there has been a lot of research into flexible working. Studies by the CIPD have shown that the top 3 benefits of flexible working for employees are better work-life balance (54%), reduced stress/pressure (29%) and improved employer loyalty (28%). The increased time that employees had to spend time with children, family and to dedicate to hobbies and personal interests is proven to lead to increased positivity, which in turn leads to increased productivity at work.

It’s a simple logic. A stressed, unhappy employee who feels their employer does not value them will be less productive than an employee who can come to work relaxed, happy and feeling valued by their employer. Think of it as a way of maximising return on investment.

A recent CBI report found that 61% of organisations have taken steps to introduce flexible working practices in the past 5 years and recognised flexible working in the top 5 drivers of employee engagement. To ensure your organisation is not left behind, contact People² today.

Flexible working doesn’t just appeal to your existing employees. Powwownow research has shown that 70% of people feel that offering flexible working makes a job more attractive to them. So with attraction, retention and engagement being significantly impacted by your flexible working offering, the connection with business success starts to become clear.

Finding the Balance

What if you need all of your employees to be in the office, or part-time is just not an option? Don’t panic. For an organisation accustomed to every employee working the same hours Monday to Friday all under one roof, the idea of offsetting the norm can seem a bit daunting. Here are some steps to get started and find the unique balance in your organisation:

  1. Critically assess the different types of flexible working options and the potential impact on different levels, functions and areas of your organisation
  2. Listen to your employees, perhaps through informal discussion, focus groups or a survey to understand what flexible options they would be interested in
  3. Look at what your competitors or other local businesses are offering to employees in relation to flexible working and compare to your employee wish list
  4. Plan a small scale pilot to further understand and test the impact
  5. Continue to measure performance and listen to employees before during and after the pilot phase to forecast the impact if you were to implement

Implementing flexibility in your working practices does not have to be a burden and it does not have to be for then sake of compliance or tick-box exercises. Understanding what flexible working is, how it impacts employees and their work can help organisations understand the benefits in driving business forward.

If you are considering moving forward with flexible working in your organisation and would like to engage with an external consultant, why not discuss your options with People²? Not only will you benefit from competitive rates and broad industry and organisation experience, but Stevie can guarantee a tailored approach to suit your individual business requirements. Please visit the Contact or About pages for more information.



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