Employers guide to flexible working. Part 4: The benefits for your employees

The fourth and final instalment in our guide to flexible working for employers is here. If you’ve stuck with us this far, you now have a fantastic overview of what flexible working is, what the legal position is, and how flexible working can benefit your business.

With this, the last piece in the puzzle – the key benefits for your employees – with these in mind you’ll be all set to put together the arguments for making flexibility a reality in your organisation.

As we’ve already noted earlier in the series the traditional nine-to-five environment has lost its allure for many, flexibility is what most people want so many of your staff will be more than keen to see it become a reality for them. However there are likely to be a few die-hard traditionalists amongst them who may take a little more persuading.

Let’s face it some people can be resistant to change. If they are happy with the nine-to-five working life they may not see why what they know and are used to needs to be different. They may feel worried that if other people choose flexible hours they’ll be left to do all the work.

If you don’t make an effort to carry those people with you when making big changes that affect their day to day working lives, you’ll risk overshadowing the positive outcomes you’re aiming for by unintentionally creating bad feeling and confusion.

Communication is key

Good communication is key. Before anything changes survey your staff to find out what they think about flexible working, what options appeal to them and what their concerns are. You’ll then get a very good idea of what their concerns are, can address these in your planning and write your policy with this feedback in mind.

Keep your staff regularly updated with the changes so there are no surprises. This is best done via their immediate managers primarily, but you can reinforce the message through other channels of internal communication – your staff newsletter, intranet or senior management briefings.

We think the benefits we’ve described below will help you build your argument and explain why you think flexible working is going to be advantageous for them. Flexible working really is an employment policy from which everyone stands to gain.

Here are the five main benefits of flexible working you need to be telling your employees about:

1. Money-saving

Commuting is expensive. By working part-time, or working from home employees can save money on either fuel or public transport costs. They can also save on the expensive sandwiches, snacks and coffees they may buy when they work in the office.

2. More time for their family

Work-life balance is a buzz-word of our time, and increasingly it’s what your employees are looking for. Fewer are prepared to sacrifice their personal life for their career and the employers that recognise this are the organisations fostering a loyal and motivated workforce.

Let’s face it traditional office hours are not compatible with family life, and are a significant barrier to women returning to the workforce after they’ve had children.

Flexible working is the golden ticket to offering work-life balance to your workforce. According to a CIPD survey of nearly 2000 employees conducted in 2012 more than half report that flexible working helps them achieve a better work-life balance.[i] A quarter said flexible working helped them manage caring for children, and one in ten said it helped them care for parents or grandparents.

Predictably, women were more likely than men to say that flexibility helped them manage their caring responsibilities. Whether it’s part-time hours, staggered hours so they can drop children at school, being able to work from home or working reduced hours in school holidays, flexibility breaks down the barriers that have excluded many women from the workforce and make a satisfying career possible. Rather than being forced to choose between family and work they can now strike a balance that works for them.

3. More time for themselves

Along with the high cost of commuting it is horribly time consuming. Staff can save themselves a couple of hours a day on average in travelling time to and from the office. Time that eats into their leisure time. About a fifth of employees in the CIPD survey said flexible working helps them stay healthy by allowing more time for them to exercise or to make sensible choices over lifestyle.

4. Less stress

Not only is commuting expensive and time consuming it can be the most stressful part of the working day. Hours packed into a busy train or stuck in traffic sends the cortisol levels soaring. Needless to say this is bad for health and puts people in a bad mood before the day has even started. Having to juggle other commitments around rigid work hours also raises stress levels.

All of these stress factors can be reduced by the ability to work flexibly – working from home, or working staggered hours to avoid rush hour.

In fact a third of respondents to the CIPD survey said that flexible working has helped reduce the amount of stress they feel under. A similar proportion think flexible working reduces the amount of time they take off work sick.

5. Increased job satisfaction

The freedom to choose when they work, the ability to fit their working day around their other commitments in their lives gives staff a sense of control and ownership. This can lead to improved levels of satisfaction, motivation and responsibility both to their role and to the organisation. A third of people surveyed by the CIPD said that flexibility had been a factor in them staying with their current employer.

So that’s it – our guide is complete. We hope you’ve found it informative, instructive, even enlightening. Flexibility is our passion, we believe it is the future of employment and as we’ve repeatedly shown here, it’s a win-win for both you and your employees.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions about how you can bring flexibility to your workforce, get in touch, we’re here to help.

[i] Flexible working provision and update, CIPD 2012


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