If you want to attract and retain top quality staff - and who doesn’t? - maybe it’s time to consider some different approaches. For instance, is the best way to get things done really via a routine of nine-to-five every day in a single place of work? And is there more you could do to get the very best out of your people by helping them create a happy and healthy work-life balance?
The option to work flexibly is consistently shown in research as one of the most prized benefits. It's also the one that’s most likely to retain and motivate existing staff. Gradually, the focus is beginning to shift away from traditional working patterns, in response to UK population trends like the rising number of working mothers in the UK, the increase in pension age, the rapidly ageing population – and the emergence of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ where individuals are called upon to care for both their children and elderly relatives. Modern service-based jobs are significantly different to the manufacturing jobs of the past, technology has improved and become widely available and people work differently.
So the idea is starting to take root that there’s a connection between supporting employees’ work/life balance and retaining and attracting them, with recent research showing:
• 53% of employees would rather have flexible working over a 5% salary increase.
• 81% look for flexible working options before joining a company, way beyond any other typical benefit such as an enhanced
pension scheme (35%), private healthcare insurance (28%) or commission (28%). Prioritising flexible working when looking for
a new role is particularly true amongst parents of young children and with adult dependants.
• 63% wanted flexible start and finish times.
• SME employers told a recent study that their major areas of focus in 2017 to reduce the likelihood of having to recruit new
people to replace those who’ve left will be employees’ work/life balance (35 per cent) and offering more flexible working
practices (21 per cent).
Interestingly, the most significant benefit for businesses embracing flexible working is greater productivity. In a recent study 92% of employers believed that those who work flexibly are just as, if not more, productive than those who work regular hours.
The other benefits cited were attracting and retaining top talent, a better work-life balance and happier employees. A report by Vodafone showed profits increased thanks to the practice, while Inc. reported that stress increased without flexible working, which in turn reduces profitability.
Flexible working has a wide number of permutations: flexi-hours, term-time working, annual hour working, job-sharing, 9-day fortnight, 4.5-day weeks, on-call working, zero-hours contracts.
For any of them to work, the business will need to trust its employees to take accountability of their own workload and time management to get things done, whether this is at 9am in the office or 9pm at home.