Flexible working works, so what’s the hold up?
Flexible working is now being more widely adopted by companies due to the advance in technology, the changing demographic of the workforce, greater interest in a work/life balance, globalisation and the recent extension to all employees of the statutory right to request flexible working. With these changes in mind, we ask whether they will trigger a revolution in the way we work and the work environment.
Organisations understand how a strong employer brand and an engaged workforce can contribute to competitive advantage. However, businesses still struggle to retain talent, particularly high performing female talent. Flexible working practices such as compressing hours, working part-time, working from home and creating effective job shares all allow for employees to work flexibly at all levels.
The ‘female brain drain’, as Capability Jane and Working Families explore in their research into job flexibility is almost certainly due to the difficulties of returning to work after a career break. But why does this happen? It seems to all be down to the reluctance of some businesses to encourage flexible or agile working from a top down level. Instead of actively encouraging flexible working - perhaps down to ill-founded concerns that team management may be less effective or client facing employees will lose connections - they are waiting for their employees to demand flexible working or job shares and fight to justify them. The demand for a greater work life balance does not come solely from women. An increasing number of senior male executives are looking to work flexibly including Chief Economist and Group Strategy Director at Lloyds Banking Group Patrick Foley who works a compressed week of three days to make time to train for Iron Man competitions.
So how can we promote the benefits of flexible working? How can the preconceptions surrounding its value be challenged? How can flexible working become embedded in culture and part of BAU? These are all questions that executives wanting to bring their business into the modern age need to consider alongside the positive outcomes that flexible and agile working can bring – most importantly talent retention, greater business continuity and having satisfied staff who feel valued.
In a few weeks, members of The HR World - many with their own experiences of high level senior job sharing and flexible working and its impacts in their sector - will meet to discuss this topic at a business breakfast debate. The discussion is set to raise a number of interesting and thought provoking ideas and questions surrounding the perceptions of flexible working and an insight into how it can be effectively implemented and the value to the business
Look out for our upcoming blog series after the debate where we’ll focus on key questions, the pros and cons of flexible working, job shares and best practice top tips to design the perfect role for both employees and their managers.
If you’re interested in joining The HR World business breakfast debate on the 21st October led by Alix Ainsley and Charlotte Cherry, Organisation & Talent Development Leaders from GE or if you would like more information then please contact Caroline Beer on caroline.beer@TheHRWorld.co.uk or 07772 136 284.
Posted on: Monday 5th Oct 2015