The reality of flexible working is now a broad concept, encompassing any working arrangements where an employee has some control over how, where, and when they work. This can involve anything from working from home, working part time, job sharing, or flexible working hours. Not only is flexible working changing in definition, it’s participants are also changing. In the past, flexible working was frequently the province of working mums. However, today, more and more employees expect some level of flexibility in their role. In fact, in a recent global survey by Vodafone, 86% of employers responded that they are experiencing demand from their employees for flexible working.
So, if employees clearly want it, the real question is, why should employers offer flexible working? Whilst the benefits to employees are pretty obvious, the notion of offering flexible working opportunities is often worrying to employers. Vodafone’s survey of 8000 employers found that 22% believed employees would not work as hard if allowed to adopt flexible working patterns and technologies. Moreover, 30% were concerned about friction between employees working flexibly and those who did not do so; and 25% believed that work would be unfairly distributed between flexible and non-flexible groups of employees. The other major concern is that flexible working would not suit the culture of their organisation. Fortunately, whilst these concerns all feel intuitive, in practice, flexible working shatters expectations, whilst offering a multitude of benefits to employers.
Rather than reducing productivity, allowing your employees to work flexibly, can actually increase productivity. Vodafone’s recent survey found that 61% of respondents said their company’s profits had increased, and a staggering 83% reported an improvement in productivity. At Capability Jane, we’ve seen this time and time again. Giving employees the flexibility and control to manage their working life in a way that suits them, delivers productivity gains that are undeniable.
Improved employee engagement and loyalty
When it comes to improving employee engagement and loyalty, flexible working arrangements are a useful resource. People’s needs in relation to work are all different. By offering flexible working practices, employees are able to fit their work around their life, and work in a way that suits them best. This gives employees a real sense of ownership and allows them the freedom to ‘work happy’. By building flexibility into your culture, you are creating a happier workplace where employees feel engaged. When you consider the cost of losing and replacing talent in today’s competitive job market, any boost to engagement and loyalty should be grasped with both hands.
Access to a larger pool of candidates
Access to talent is a real concern for the SMEs we talk to at Capability Jane. Many are struggling to find talent, especially at senior levels, and even more are struggling to build diversity in their workforce. In our experience, we’ve found that many highly skilled people leave the workforce mid-career to care for children or relatives, creating a diversity gap at the top of many organisations. By enabling people to remain or return to roles on a flexible basis, you’ll invariably have access to a wider pool of talent, that can deliver the results you need.
Absenteeism is a major concern for any employer. Time is money, and time off for employees can be a major money drain. Happily, by implementing flexible working, you’ll be able to tackle the problem head on. Flexible working can have a real impact on health and well-being, and as a result can help to reduce absenteeism. According to a research report by the Swedish Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, a flexible working environment results in a reduction of the incidence of sick leave by allowing individuals to adjust work to illness in order to maintain sufficient work ability. Moreover, it offers employees the potential to remain at work irrespective of ill-health, a clear win-win for both employers and employees.
Reduced costs or financial benefits
For employers struggling to afford a full-time member of staff, hiring on a reduced hours contract can deliver the talent you need without the excessive wage cost. For other employers, offering remote working can reduce office costs. When you add those benefits to an increase in productivity, it’s clear that flexible working can be a boon for innovative employers.
Increased productivity achieved in a cost-effective manner leads to business growth. Talk to us about how we can help you strengthen your team as a platform for growth. Please contact Jennifer Brooks, firstname.lastname@example.org