Employers guide to flexible working. Part 3: The benefits for you, the employer

After our last post in this Employers guide to flexible working series we know you’re fully up to speed with all the legal ins and outs of flexible working. So now you’ve armed yourself with all the background info we’ve given you so far it’s time to get to the good stuff – what benefits will you and your employees reap from introducing flexible working?

We firmly believe that what’s good for your employees is also great for you but we’re going to try and create a distinction for the purposes of this guide. We know that ultimately what’s going to convince your board or management team that flexible is worth the effort is whether it can boost your bottom line. And it can. We promise. But don’t just take our word for it. There’s plenty of research to back this up which we’ll be giving you as we go through the main benefits flexible working can bring your business.

So what are the key benefits of being a flexible workplace? What advantages can flexible working bring you?

Save money

By introducing news ways of working – flexible hours, hot-desking, enabling employees to work from anywhere – you can save on property and the costs associated with providing a fixed desk for every employee. This is huge. Office space is one of the biggest overheads for small and medium sized businesses, and even larger businesses tend to under estimate how much it costs to provide desk space. Did you know that on average cost of providing a desk in the UK is £5746?

A survey conducted by YouGov and Vodafone found that business decision makers thought they could save an average of 46 desks through introducing flexible working.[i] That’s an average saving of £260,000. I don’t know many businesses that would turn their noses up at that.

Case study: Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, one of our flexible working champions, managed to reduce their floorspace by 61% when they introduced the technology to support flexible working practices, generating a substantial saving.

Retain staff

You want to hang on to you trusted, hard working staff don’t you? Absolutely you do. So you’ll be pleased to know that one of the key benefits of flexible working is fostering loyalty and longevity amongst your existing workforce.

According to a CIPD survey of 1000 employers and 2000 employees conducted in 2012 nearly three quarters of employers felt that implementing flexible working practices had had a positive impact on staff retention.[ii] Backing this up, nearly a third of the employees questioned identified flexible working as a reason they have stayed with their current employer, with women more likely to make this claim than men.

In fact it’s becoming increasingly clear that the traditional nine to five office environment is no longer appealing to the vast majority of people. A PWC report, ‘The future of work: A journey to 2022’ revealed that the way people want to work has radically altered over the last few years. A tiny 14% of those surveyed have any desire to work in a traditional office environment in the future.[iii]

Attract valuable new recruits

Flexibility is what today’s workforce wants – it makes them feel trusted, empowered and able to maintain a work life balance.

Having a modern, innovative culture of flexible working can make you overwhelmingly attractive to new recruits and in the competitive recruitment environment we work in today this can really set you apart.

“Since Virgin announced the introduction of their unlimited leave policy Richard Branson says their career inbox has never been fuller.”

What’s alarming for any organisation that isn’t embracing flexible working is that recent research suggests that one in three workers would leave their current job if an offer of a role with more flexible working arrangements came along.[iv] In fact if you just look at Generation Y (18-32 year olds) this rises to 43%.

On top of this employing key members of your team part-time can enable you to tap into a whole new market of potential recruits who may be too costly to employ full-time. For instance there is an, until recently, untapped gold mine of experienced professional women, who after having children have in the past been struggled to return to work at a similar level because they need or want to work part-time. The rise of flexible working is now making it possible for savvy businesses to tap into this resource.

Case study: For our client, Bromley Healthcare, the appeal of flexible working has been key to attracting high quality individuals from diverse sectors senior roles on a budget they could afford. “We are getting far more out of these experienced individuals than we would if we had employed more junior people full-time,” says their CEO Jonathan Lewis.

Improve staff motivation and engagement

The CIPD survey we mentioned above found that three quarters of employers reported that flexible working had a positive impact on employee motivation and a similar level also reported that staff engagement improved.

In fact the CIPD point out that there is a strong correlation between employees achieving the right balance between work and home life and those who are engaged at work. Nearly 80% of engaged employees either agree or strongly agree that they have the right work life balance.

Lift productivity

A more motivated and engaged workforce can only improve productivity right? Right. A survey of 2500 senior managers conducted by Regus found that 63% linked a growth in revenue directly to flexible working practices.[v]

More responsive customer service

An agile work force is a more responsive workforce. Having employees that aren’t tied to their desks, who can work anywhere at any time means businesses can be more responsive to the needs of your customers, giving you an advantage over less flexible competitors.

Less stress and absence

You’ll be pleased to learn, what you probably instinctively know to be true, employees who feel they have a better work life balance, and more control over their job are less stressed and less likely to be absent from work. 56% of employers in the CIPD survey found that absenteeism dropped after they adopted flexible working practices. If staff have the ability to manage their working day around dental appointments or their child’s school play they don’t need to ‘call in sick’ to fit in the important events of their life.

We hope this has given you enough material to start building a case for flexible working in your organisation. Obviously there will be benefits, and challenges, that are specific to your business, but this should give you a good starting point.

So that’s the business case covered but what about your employees? It may seem obvious that they stand to gain from a more flexible environment but you may need to sell it some of them too, or at least present the reasons for introducing new practices. While most are more than ready to embrace it, some may need a little persuading, and good change management demands you involve them from the start. Next week we’ll be cover the benefits flexible working can bring your employees so be sure to check back.


[ii] Flexible working provision and update, CIPD 2012

[iii] The Future of Work – A journey to 2022, PWC 2014

[iv] The New Way to Work, Unify 2014

[v] Flexibility Drives Productivity, Regus 2012

Sign Up to Access Our Insights and Publications

Sign up to read our latest Inspire Magazine and access insights and publications on our website. You will then receive our latest News, Inspire Magazine and Publications straight to your inbox as soon as they're released!