As a new generation enters the workforce, many employers are adapting the way they attract and retain staff. There’s a notable shift away from traditional 9-5 working hours into a more open arrangement. In this article, the MIA’s Business Helpline Partner, Croner, explores the benefits of introducing flexible working to your business…
From increased productivity to providing you with an edge over your competitors when recruiting, there’re numerous benefits of introducing flexible working practices.
The law and flexible working
You must deal with requests for flexible working in a “reasonable manner”. This includes holding a meeting with the employee to discuss the request and considering whether you should allow it.
If you believe it negatively impacts the business, you can refuse the request. Specific reasons for refusing requests for flexible working includes:
- Planned structural changes.
In this situation, you must offer an appeal process where employees may try to overturn your decision.
The entire grievance process, from request to appeal outcome, should be concluded within three months unless the parties agree to this time limit. If an appeal request isn’t handled it a “reasonable manner”, employees are may take you to an employment tribunal.
What are the benefits of flexible working?
There’re many advantages and disadvantages of flexible working.
According to research from the Institute of Leadership and Management, 94% of all organisations in the UK now offer their staff some form of flexible working.
Benefits of flexible working for employers
- Employee retention: This is probably the most important benefits of flexible working arrangements. A 2012 CIPD survey estimated that about 76% of over 2,500 managers surveyed cited retention as one of the more popular employer benefits of flexible working. Offering the option strengthens employee loyalty to a company as encouraging long-term commitment. Which enhances the company culture and reduces the costs associated with recruiting and training new employees.
- Productivity: Stressed and over-worked employees are more likely to take more sick days or quit their job than ones who aren’t. Flexible working intends to tackle stress by promoting a happier, loyal and more balanced workforce.
- Recruiting: Offering flexible contributes to attracting potential recruits as much as attractive pay packages does. Research shows that it’s among the top considerations for employees looking for their new role. Workers are now more likely to prioritise companies that offer flexible working hours, as opposed to ones that don’t.
- Extended opening hours: More benefits of flexible working hours for employers include the opportunity to extend your company’s current business hours. Allowing employees to work outside of your normal hours make for a more satisfied clientele.
Other benefits of flexible working hours include increased employee engagement, better quality of new recruits, and increased innovation and creativity within the business.
Benefits of flexible working for employees
- Less stress: Commuting is generally thought of as one of the most stressful daily events of people’s lives. From relentless traffic to jam-packed trains it’s no wonder employees embrace the opportunity to eliminate this from their life. Apart from being an inconvenience, if left unaddressed stress can fester into other mental health issues. So offering flexible working hours gives staff members the option to manage their time effectively which reduces stress.
- Money saving: Working from home eliminates the costs of everyday commutes. It can also influence more cost-effective purchasing decisions, such as planning ahead for lunch breaks rather than making a last minute dash to a supermarket.
- Job satisfaction: Giving your employees the freedom to manage their time and tasks increases their confidence and sense of ownership over projects.
- Work/life balance: The Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that over 70% of individuals with children are currently in the workforce. With another one in seven employees being responsible for caring for a family member. Offering your employees flexible working options allows them to balance commitments in their personal lives with the demands of their work life.
Disadvantages of flexible working
Although the pros outweigh the cons, it’s only natural we explore your options. This will help you understand which is the right fit for your business.
Disadvantages of flexible working for employers
- Supervision: Some employees working from home may require extra supervision to make sure they’re working productively.
- Fairness: You should be consistent when addressing requests for flexible working. If employees feel that you’re not, they can make discrimination claims at an employment tribunal.
Disadvantages of flexible working for employees
- Work-life balance: Boundaries between an employee’s home and work life may become blurred. It becomes harder to draw a line between when they’re meant to be working and when they’re not. It also means they could be putting in more hours than they’re meant to without noticing.
- Communication: Staff members working from home can use tools like slack and google hangouts to stay in contact with their colleagues. However, they may struggle with feeling like part of the team especially if they’re working outside of the normal working hours.
As part of your membership with the MIA you can speak to a Croner expert for help with any of the above issues and get free in-depth, tailored advice. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01403 800500 for the exclusive Business Support Helpline scheme number.
There is another very useful blog post on flexible working which can be viewed here – www.calibre-furniture.co.uk/blog/why-flexible-working-is-more-than-just-a-trend