December 12, 2017

Flexible Working: Your Route to a Prosperous Future

The future of employment could lie in flexible working, according to a new survey carried out by consultancy, Timewise.

The survey revealed that 63% of full time employees now work flexibly, with arrangements including working from home for some or all of the week, flexi time, part time hours and term time only work.

It also found that the preference for flexible working was strong in both sexes with 84% of male full time employees either working flexibly already or saying that they wanted to. This rose to 91% for women.

Employees often value flexibility over other benefits or remuneration packages because they all have different needs inside and outside of work.

Flexible working can help meet those needs – offering flexibility can assist with attracting and retaining the best workforce you possibly can.

Could flexible working help your recruitment process?

By offering flexibility there will be a wider pool for recruitment as many experienced people who are unable or unwilling to work full time may be available to work on a part time or job share basis, or work from home.

The research also showed that 93% of non-workers who wanted a job would prefer to work either part time or flexibly in a full time role.

There are benefits for employees but also employers. The benefits of flexible working for employees are often around giving an element of control to employees, which can improve their work-life balance and assist with maintaining their health and wellbeing.

For the employer, improvements in productivity and performance can be shown along with improvements in staff engagement and motivation.

Although over half of UK employers offer flexible working arrangements, a CBI report back in December 2016 found that only 1 job advertisement in 10 mentioned flexible working.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission in August this year called for all jobs that can be to be advertised as available for flexible working. This would enable greater transparency in job adverts that would need to be followed up with more open conversations around flexible working during the recruitment process.

If flexibility can be offered in any degree – are you communicating this to candidates when recruiting? Could you open your vacancy up to a wider pool of candidates?

A change in company culture

Flexible working needs to be seen as normal practice. Although employees value flexible working initiatives, other research shows employees are concerned that working flexibly would prevent them from climbing the career ladder (Hays Gender Diversity Report 2017). Part time working isn’t often associated with career progression.

Managers need to understand, communicate and support flexible working policies and address any negative perceptions in the company.

Training for managers on these policies would help to ensure they are well equipped to promote the benefits and address any employee concerns.

Managers who adopt a positive attitude towards flexible working are likely to find that their operational needs can be met more successfully. An employee’s request to change their working hours does not mean a reduction in that person’s commitment to the job or organisation.

The legislation once employed

All employees who have worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks are entitled to make one request for flexible working in any 12-month period.

The employer’s duty is to deal with these requests in a ‘reasonable manner’. There is no obligation on the employer to agree to the request. However, if the employer is unable to accommodate the request it must be for one of seven statutory business reasons.

The legislation states that employees should not be dismissed or subjected to any detriment for any reason related to the fact they have submitted or are proposing to submit a request for flexible working.

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About the author

Louise Gillibrand

Louise is a generalist Human Resource professional with over 18 years’ experience across a variety of sectors including care, medical, retail and telecommunications, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Louise provides sound practical and business-focused advice in line with employment legislation and best practice, and has worked in partnership with line managers, senior operational managers and directors. Typical consultancy projects include advice on complex employee relations issues, redundancy programmes, restructures, TUPE, recruitment, policy writing and grievance/disciplinary handling. In addition to her generalist knowledge she is experienced in delivering training on a wide variety of employment law and HR subjects. Louise joined the Moorepay consultancy team in October 2007.