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Flexible working can make a huge difference to your company. The "lunch is for wimps" culture of the eighties is long gone, and employees today place strong emphasis on attaining an optimal work/life balance.

How flexible working can boost your business

Flexible working can make a huge difference to your company. The “lunch is for wimps” culture of the eighties is long gone, and employees today place strong emphasis on attaining an optimal work/life balance.

By offering flexible working, your organisation can improve the productivity of its people, improve staff retention and attract the best talent in the business. In fact, offering more flexible arrangements can give you a significant competitive edge, even if your salary and benefits package are no better than the industry average (or potentially slightly worse).

So what exactly do we mean by flexible working and how commonplace is it?

What is flexible working?

While the CIPD’s January 2019 Megatrends report states “flexible working is not easily defined”, you will find flexible working arrangements largely fall into one of the following categories: job sharing, working from home, part-time working, compressed hours, flexitime, annualised hours and staggered hours.

Clearly, not every type of arrangement will work for every kind of business. Flexitime may be more practical for larger organisations, for example, who can draw on a significant pool of employees to ensure that cover is maintained across all their business hours. Similarly, working from home may not always be practical for roles requiring constant face-to-face contact.

However, the benefits of introducing some form of flexible working speak for themselves.

In a recent survey The State of Flexible Work Arrangements by Zenefits.com, 73% of respondents said flexible work arrangements had increased their job satisfaction and 78% said this had made them more productive. Meanwhile, 77% said that flexible working was a major consideration when evaluating job offers. Yet for all that, 53% of respondents said their employers had no official flexible working policy in place.

Why isn't flexible working more commonplace?

In the 1950s, just 4% of people worked part-time. Today, according to research by PowWowNow, 47% of employees are encouraged to work flexibly, whilst 58% of workers could choose some flexible options, though nearly a quarter of those opted not to do so.

These surprising statistics mean that roughly half of all employers demonstrate no commitment to flexible working and continue to focus on the traditional nine-to-five (or some variant thereof). This could significantly restrict their access to top talent in a number of demographics – most notably, women with dependent children, according to the CIPD’s Working Lives survey, as these professionals must carefully balance their work and domestic commitments.

Organisations operating slightly behind the curve when it comes to flexibility need to ensure that they do not fall foul of the law, which specifies that they must formally review requests for flexible working arrangements. That does not mean, of course, that they are obliged to respond positively, but it is important that companies take any requests seriously.

More importantly, such organisations are missing a trick if they do not implement flexible arrangements as employees increasingly consider this a crucial factor when deciding where to work.

Transforming your business through flexible working

Introducing flexible working arrangements is only the first step: your employees need to know that they exist, and they should be encouraged to participate. By using internal communications to promote your commitment to flexible working, and encouraging senior management to lead by example, you can make flexible arrangements central to your organisation’s culture and ethos.

The effect on your people’s lives will be transformative, as they will be able to prioritise what matters to them. Some will seize the opportunity to undertake the “school run” or have an early supper with young children, whilst others will relish the opportunity to stay late to finish an involving project and then take time off in lieu. Whatever their priorities, their work-life balance will be transformed, as will their productivity and passion for your organisation.

According to HR Magazine, the next step should be to re-evaluate your broader benefits package to ensure that it appeals to the widest possible demographic. The benefits that most appeal to a senior manager approaching retirement may not be particularly attractive to a fresh graduate or a school leaver on minimum wage. By offering a diverse and flexible range of benefits, including flexible working options, you will attract more enthusiastic and loyal people to your company.

How Brook Street can help

Brook Street consultants can provide expert and tailored advice on the best flexible working options for your business, and how best to introduce them, as well as how to broaden your benefits package.

Get in touch touch with your consultant today to get the insights and expertise needed to give your organisation the edge.

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