The benefits of implementing a flexible working policy are increasingly being recognised by larger companies, but the true benefits can be particularly important to SMEs.
More and more HR departments are recognising the importance of facilitating employees through a flexible working policy as a proven method of increasing productivity, contentment and retention. While it may be argued that larger companies can easily implement such a policy without too much impact on the day-to-day business, the real potential benefit can be observed in smaller businesses.
Yes, the same benefits in productivity, contentment and retention apply for smaller businesses as well. But it is having this more dynamic approach that enables smaller businesses with finite budgets to employ talent with more qualifications/ experience/ contacts/ vision for a fraction of their full-time salary.
If a business has a budget of £45,000 per annum for a Financial Controller, the level of seniority and experience of the candidates that will be attracted to such a role is limited. However, when that position is 3 days a week, they are able to attract candidates (looking for a flexible role) who would otherwise expect to earn £75,000 per annum full time. Such a candidate would bring a level of experience and knowledge that would allow the business to implement systems, processes and strategies that a more junior person couldn’t propose. The productivity of such a person would likely exceed their working hours and the general productivity and benefit to the business would certainly be significantly enhanced.
Along with getting more ‘bang for your buck’ the same cost benefits of reduced office space required, less requirement for city centre offices and less sick leave couple well with a happier, more productive workforce.
One of the more significant misgivings employers have to implementing a flexible working policy is the prospect of not being able to meet their client expectations in a prompt and professional manner – a legitimate concern!
It is essential to any business to provide their clients with the highest service, therefore convention dictates that employees need to be available to meet these requirements. The legal industry is a case in point – law firms have evolved with this mantra remaining at the forefront.
It is therefore refreshing to see an international, award winning law firm piloting a flexible working scheme (See: legalweek.com). Flexible working is by its very nature flexible, it’s a two-way street. When there is a large, time sensitive project with a looming deadline, it’s ‘all hands on deck’. At all other times empowering staff to make a choice regarding their working arrangement seems sensible.
Of course there will be employees who ‘clock-watch’, doing the minimum that they are contractually obliged to. But these people would behave the same way, whether their business had a flexible working policy or not.
The benefits of a flexible working policy to a business far outweigh the negatives – more motivated, productive and contented staff who are more in control of their work-life balance.
Surely that’s a winner all round?
Some of the UK’s largest employers have recently backed a report that advocates the benefits of flexible working. Reducing absenteeism, making more efficient use of office space (and helping reduce travel costs and carbon emissions) are some of the benefits businesses can reap from this working arrangement.
Companies will also benefit from being able to recruit talent with better qualifications, experience and contacts when they utilise flexible working.
The Advanced Workplace Associates (http://bit.ly/qsCKxb) foresees 10% of the future workforce working from home, or at least having a flexible working arrangement. Of course it’s not a ‘one size fits all’, many roles require full time employees, this applies conversely, a lot of roles do not require people at their desks 9 -5, Monday to Friday.
In what situations would flexible working benefit your company and its employees?
Recent research has again shown the younger generation are looking for a more flexible working arrangement. Indeed there is consensus that flexible working would in fact help stimulate economic growth.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation have said “employers are going to have to think about how they engage people, how they employ them and the different types of contractual relationships they have in place” (http://bit.ly/narIqK).
This approach will require business owners and managers to adopt a different mindset and view their business as worker-led not just business-led. But there is no reason that this approach would not benefit such companies – it is an exciting, more dynamic approach to staffing.
I am very interested to find out different experiences and views, from businesses and employees, how do you think flexible working would affect your company? Would it work? Is it an exciting approach or unfeasible?
As legislation and employee desire is increasing the prominence of flexible working, technology will become a increasingly important facilitator to this – and there is no excuse for businesses not to take advantage of it.
Broadband connectivity, smartphones and cloud computing are all contributing to change the landscape of employment.
Companies are starting to appreciate the changing landscape of the workplace. More and more businesses utilise hot-desking and realise that empowering their talented staff increases their productivity and commitment.
Staff don’t need to be ‘at their desks’ from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday – lets properly move into the 21st Century!
Given the shift from a consumer driven society, people are realising and appreciating the importance on having a work life balance.
The obsession of ‘living to work’ and following acquisition of unnecessary material items made people lose focus on what was important – family, friends, a more rounded and complete life.
Flexible working, where businesses empower their staff to take control of their life is slowly becoming more frequent. The benefits are to be shared by both employer and employee. Company owners and HR departments are starting to realise that the provision of a flexible working policy is both a legal and staff engagement requirement.
Let us hope that this change in mindset gathers pace!