Flexible working – making it work for you and your employees

During the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have had to adapt and become more flexible in their working practices. Both employers and employees are increasingly seeing the benefits of working more flexibly.

We would encourage employers to consider a flexible working practice for all employees, to allow for the changes in people’s lives, including caring responsibilities. In addition, to consider carefully all specific flexible working requests that come from employees, particularly in relation to new parents returning to work.

Benefits for employers

  • Increased productivity and motivation. Most people find flexible working even more of a motivation factor than financial incentives.

  • Staggered hours and shift patterns could mean more availability to customers outside of traditional working hours

  • Retain the best staff. Parents are increasingly looking for flexibility in their job roles, and often move roles after becoming parents to accommodate this. To retain your best assets, look at building in flexibility for all staff.

  • Attract the best employees. As mentioned above, increasingly employees are looking for flexibility in their work, and not just mothers.

  • Reduces stress and burnout. Flexibility gives employees the ability to work around big life events, the freedom to do their best work and to have autonomy. In 2015, mental health accounted for an estimated £226 billion gross value added (12.1%) to UK GDP (MHF & Unum, 2016). 1

  • A more diverse workforce, as organisations need to ensure they reflect their customers. It’s important that women are in senior positions as well as men, and people are given the same opportunities, whatever their needs.

  • Cost saving. Having workers who work from home or remotely elsewhere saves money on resources and can reduce your carbon footprint.

Benefits for parents

  • Better work-life balance. Parents find the balance between work and the rest of their life incredibly important. Employees value employers where flexibility is embedded, and they can ensure they can balance their responsibilities at home and work.

  • Less guilt/ pressure to perform. Part time workers can feel guilty at leaving when their hours are done or feel that they need to complete the same amount of work in less time. If flexibility is embedded into the organisation, it means there’s less pressure on people who are part time.

  • Better job satisfaction. Parents have different priorities, and value jobs that allow them to feel valued. This promotes job satisfaction, which in turn means that employees are more likely to stay within an organisation, work hard and perform well.

Best practice
Southampton City Council

The flexible working scheme pilot has been rolled out across thousands of employees since 2018. Employees can work any hours they choose between 6.30am and 9.30pm with up to five breaks through the day. The employees need to support the needs of service but within that employees can work the hours that suits them best.

It supports people with caring responsibilities, for example being able to do school drop off and pick up and make up hours later in the day, or visiting an elderly relative and therefore having a longer lunch break.

For further examples of best practice in embedding flexible working across a range of employment sectors, please see the following report:

Single Employer

Information for Employers

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