Flexible working is key to business success

Flexible working has proven benefits across employee retention, diversity, client service and, ultimately, financial returns.

19 September 2017

It makes sense. If you allow your employees to choose their number of working hours, start and finish times and where they work to compliment their lifestyle rather than impede it, they will be more satisfied, motivated and keen to deliver. The Cranfield School of Management summarises that the phenomenon is a kind of payment to the employer from the worker in exchange for the freedom to choose where and when to work.

 According to Timewise and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 46% of employed people in the UK want to work flexibly. That’s 14.1 million people looking for a role that fits with their lifestyle.

Happy employees, better retention

Employers are increasingly looking to flexible working at point of hire in order to attract employees, rather than simply as an obligation or reward to longer serving employees. A flexible approach leads to better employee engagement, motivation and loyalty and in fact is an expected part of the package, much like a salary or 25 days holiday. The UK labour market has one of the most diverse range of working patterns in Europe and many see flexible working now as the norm, rather than the exception.

In 2014 IBM found that a good work-life balance improved job satisfaction, employee retention and was linked to faster career progression amongst their professional managerial employees in the UK and US. Employees with flexible working arrangements also tend to be healthier, happier and more productive. Cranfield School of Management’s study suggests that workers given flexible hours actually tend to put in more hours because they work more extensively and intensely than their colleagues with more rigid hours.

Access to a wider talent pool

By restricting opportunities to work flexibly at the point of hire, employers may be cutting themselves off from a highly skilled, experienced and driven proportion of the candidate market. As an example, offering job shares unlocks all full time roles for flexible working candidates. For employers it has the added benefits of allowing multiple skillsets into the same role and reducing the impact of annual leave or sickness - you have instant cover.

It’s good for business

It stands to reason that a happy, motivated, loyal and productive workforce will lead to greater financial gains. Further to this, employers should consider that flexibility in roles will allow for more diverse gender representation at a senior level and research from Grant Thornton suggests that diverse boards outperform male-only peers by £430bn.

These proven benefits, supported by recent government initiatives like Equality Act 2010; Extension of the right to request flexible working (June 2014); Gender pay gap reporting (commencing April 2017); and Female board representation targets for FTSE 100 firms have resulted in 95% of employers saying they now offer some form of flexible working.

Yet despite the obvious efforts by employers to offer flexible opportunities, 77% of flexible workers continue to say that they feel ‘trapped’ in their roles and only 6.2% of job ads offer flexible working solutions.

With significant growth in the South West financial services in the last decade and in other sectors and the ever growing challenge of attracting and retaining good quality employees, perhaps now is the time to consider flexible hiring as the key to unlocking an untapped pool of talent, currently unsatisfied or not even in the market for a job because their needs are not being met. Offer candidates a role that is appealing to both their skills and experience and the demands of their modern lives.

Due to the raft of evidence supporting flexible working, we have made it our mission to improve flexible working practices in the South West.

Get in touch to see how we can help you shape your approach to flexible working and attract the very best candidates to deliver results for your business.