What does Flexible Working mean?
When I started my career I was able to work ‘flexi time’, this meant if I worked a longer day one day I could accumulate that time and work a shorter day another day. This was forward thinking back then and a revelation to my friends whose employers didn’t offer such things – it did wonders for me!
These days this is pretty much redundant. Flexible Working now means an awful lot more and is no longer considered a perk; for many it is a requirement of their employer, particularly for the Millennial’s.
So what does it mean for business, if we allow our employees to work from home when they want to, to take unlimited leave, to work flexible hours rather than the traditional nine to five? Does it cost the company money, does productivity drop, can employees be trusted to actually work?
Research by Morgan Redwood has shown that companies who provide flexible working to enable an improved work life balance earn 20 percent more from their employees.
The 20 percent is realised through reduced sick days off work and increased engagement and productivity from the employee.
When employees feel valued and engaged they are more likely to go the extra mile for their organisation, this is no longer just about receiving a bonus once a year. The satisfaction from receiving a bonus lasts for around 3 months (source Dan Gilbert, US Scientist). Happy employees are loyal, productive and honest, so what encourages happiness? It’s about the whole package and this now includes flexible working.
The Institute of Leadership and Management identified that 94% of UK organisations apparently offer Flexible Working. In reality this doesn’t convert to 94% as there is still some stigma around logging on from somewhere other than the office, or outside of the 9.00 to 17.00 routine.
Companies have to be seen to stand behind their flexible working arrangements, it’s no good if employees feel it’s in principle only and they are frowned upon if they actually work in this way.
Establishing the correct culture isn’t easy and when companies get it right they become sought after employers – Google and Virgin stand out as two examples. Leaders in these organisations trust and empower their employees; in some Virgin companies they have a policy of unlimited annual leave, trusting their team to get the job done (and they do, in spades).
Today’s lives are busier than they have ever been, people are switched on all the time, smart phones buzzing with emails and texts day and night. It’s about balancing all these commitments, work, family, down time, exercise and it can become exhausting. When employees feel their company has their back they can do the school run without guilt and log back on when the kids are in bed, or they can go to the gym before work and come in energised and engaged.
Employee engagement is vital, communication is two way and open dialogue is encouraged. These organisations realise there is value in the ideas of their employees and those employees need to feel safe and valued to contribute at this level. This is where good goes to great.
Just because you see someone sitting at a desk it doesn’t mean they are doing a great job, frankly if they were working flexibly you could have 1 desk shared between multiple people and 1 parking space for that matter. More savings for your bottom line!
So does Flexible Working improve your bottom line? Get it right and it does.
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