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The want for part time or flexible hours, job sharing, remote working, or a 4 day week has never been greater. People are striving to achieve a perfect work – life balance.
The law currently states that any employee (not just a parent or carer) after 26 weeks of employment with one company have the legal right to make a statutory application for flexible working- and employers must deal with each request within 3 months of application and in a reasonable manner.
According to statistics, a staggering 70% of employees believe that flexible working would make a job more attractive to them.
From a business perspective, it makes sense to put actions in place that will increase the ability to recruit outstanding employees, reduce turnover of fully trained staff, extend hours of business, and portrays you and your business as one that cares about the well being of staff, treating them as assets and not numbers. This is a fact that businesses are recognising. The ministry of defence is currently working on the ‘Flexible Engagement System Project’ , examining ways to improve flexible working, and considers introducing new opportunities to their personnel, including the ability to request temporary part time working options, by the year 2019. Arriva has been praised for introducing new flexible working policies, allowing new parents the entitlement to 26 weeks full paid leave, including the LGBT community, adoptive parents, mums and dads.
The most obvious reasoning behind flexibility in the work place for an employee is to meet family needs and personal obligations; to create a more balanced lifestyle. However, the positive effects of giving your employees a little bit of flexibility are staggering. Even spending one day extra at home a week, or travelling an hour later does make a massive difference on the amount of money and time employees spend getting in to work; increasing employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the organisation. Avoiding traffic in the morning and angry commuters does make a massive difference on increasing productivity for the day ahead. Less stress first thing in the morning builds a positive environment for the entire team and reduces absenteeism and tardiness.
There are also key organizational challenges that need to addressed in order to make flexible work schedules support business. Flexible work schedules support employee engagement, positive morale, and retention. But, must also operate to meet the needs of the business too.
whether my opinion has been formed around what I have seen as normal in the workplace or not, it is difficult to form a picture of a successful operational team where every member of staff is offered the full flexibility that they want. Can a team- orientated department function with everyone being on different schedules? Could remote working be abused by some who spend their time at home not doing much other than answer a few emails? When does someone adjusting their schedule and availability to suit their needs start affecting the success of the business?
It could be said that flexibility is just not an option for everyone… for people working in healthcare, in customer facing businesses… Is it better to rule it out for everyone, or make it available for the few that truly need it?
Being in control of their own lifestyle by finding flexibility is what the millennial generation of workers are coming to expect. Uncontrollable factors (such as the nature of the industry) do add their limits. It is something organisations should be embracing wherever possible as they look to hire the best talent for their company. It is something that all employers need to start taking into consideration as much as possible in order to attract and retain the strongest, most productive work force, irrespective of the legal rights their employees have.
Blog written by: Leigh David, Reward Recruitment Consultant at Williams Kent Ltd
3rd January 2018
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