Flexible working is a big topic for me right now. My clients are discussing it and so is my wife! With our children now both in school my wife is looking to start a new career and a role with some flexibility is now very appealing to us.
Clients are starting to realise that there are a number of benefits in offering flexibility: reducing attrition, improving your gender mix, solving your hard to fill vacancies, increasing the wellbeing of your employees and improving your sales! – I’ll come to that later!
Of course there are some very good reasons why it can get tricky! You offer flexible working and the flood gates open to all your existing employees who want more flexibility- is that sustainable? Well it all depends on your business and your infrastructure. More part time hours and job sharing increases your headcount which is a bigger cost to manage. Starting someone in a new role could arguably take longer to get up to speed if they are not full time. Lots of things to consider.
However when you list the benefits, it starts to become very appealing. I have written about this before, but a more diverse workforce has proven time and time again that it will improve the overall performance of your business. I have no doubt that taking flexible working to the next level will increase diversity and help employers tap into talent which would not have previously considered them as a viable option. Improving attrition? There is plenty of research out there which suggests that being flexible reduces churn and keeps employees engaged longer. If you can also offer agile working with options for employees working away from the office then the potential rental savings in reducing office desks is potentially huge. There’s also plenty of evidence that productivity improves too.
But increasing sales through flexible working is my own experience. As a telesales team manager back in the day, I was always amazed at how our part time workforce (mainly returning mums who needed to reduce their hours) would always smash their targets. I remember one colleague telling me that she was firstly much happier as she was spending more time with her young family but secondly she was coming in for 4 hours per week and feeling fresher rather than going stale after 8 hours of sales each day. The reality was that they were getting more sales than most of their full time colleagues were.
Will we look back in years to come and say “remember when we didn’t offer agile and flexible working!? A bit like now when we say “Remember when we let people smoke on planes!?” Crazy!?
Written by James Chorley, Client Relationship Director.