The Flexible Way to a more Engaged Workforce

Published: 31st May 2017

 

We hear a lot these days about flexible working, mainly in a negative sense.  Stories around the “Gig Economy” and zero hours contracts focus mainly on poor working conditions and the exploitation of workers.  However, research shows that many workers value flexible working as a key benefit. 

Younger workers are increasingly looking for work-life balance in their choice of career rather than the rigid 7.5 hours a day in the office expected in the traditional workplace.  In addition, those with caring responsibilities or outside interests welcome the opportunity to work around their commitments. 

Of course, advances in technology make flexible working a much more viable option than it was in the past.  Instant chat, shared documents and video conferencing make the workplace totally mobile.  Working from home – or indeed anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection – is as easy as sitting in the office.


So what are the benefits of flexible working?


  • Businesses can potentially save on office space if workers are mainly home-based or if part-timers can share desk-space
  • Resources can be matched to demand.  Rather than having a fixed workforce from 9 – 5, employers can arrange working hours to meet peaks in activity or to service different time-zones.
  • Workers who are allowed flexibility are reported to be more committed, more loyal and experience greater levels of job satisfaction.  These factors tend to result in better performance overall, as well as reducing recruitment costs.
  • Businesses can access a more diverse workforce by being open to part-time, home-working and other forms of flexible working.


And how can you make it work for your business?

    • Set clear expectations in terms of performance and workload.  Results will be measured by what is achieved rather than how long someone is sat at their desk.  Make sure regular face-to-face meetings take place. 
    • Those working away from the office environment can feel isolated if efforts are not made to integrate them into the team.  For the same reason, encourage informal chat (whether on the phone or through chat apps) between remote workers and those in the office. 
    • Make sure boundaries are set around when the employee is expected to be available on the phone or checking their e-mails.  The flip side of flexible working can mean that workers never switch off!

 

From an employment law perspective, all employees are entitled to request flexible working.  Businesses are not obliged to grant the request but must follow a fair process for considering it and have a good business reason for turning it down.

For more information on improving employee engagement, adopting flexible working policies or any other HR matter, get in touch on 01484 841776 or e-mail us at info@penninebusinesspartners.com