The issue of flexible working has been making headlines recently with the news that all employees will have the right to request flexible hours from 30th June this year. Organisations will now need to fully and fairly consider any request for a change to working hours made by employees, regardless of their personal circumstances. With this new policy the Government hopes to usher in a ‘culture change’ to Britain’s workplaces, where employment flexibility is seen as a positive and the norm rather than the preserve of parents and an end to career advancement.
Every day, I see the benefits that offering flexible and part-time roles can have, not just for the employee, but also for the employer. Smaller companies often feel that they cannot afford to take on someone with the experience and knowledge they need. Taking on a senior level executive at £50k+ is a huge undertaking for a smaller business and they may often put off doing this, to the detriment of moving the company forward in the way they would like. By offering a part-time working arrangement, companies can maximise their return on investment, taking advantage of the same knowledge and experience but at a significantly lower cost. For the salary of a junior full-time employee, an experienced part-time executive can bring the inspiration needed to take a company to the next level and will require little in the way of training and investment.
In financial terms, flexible working allows organisations to control expenditure – increasing employee costs only once income allows. Companies can introduce the specialist knowledge they need incrementally rather than committing immediately to the costs of taking on a full-time employee.
The output and productivity of part-time employees is often second to none. With limited time to achieve objectives workers become highly motivated and driven to succeed, there is less time spent chatting by the coffee machine or secretly browsing the web and more ensuring the workload is under control. A part-time employee often achieves for the company output equal to ‘4 days for the price of 3’, a real advantage in terms of return on investment.
Another option that companies should consider is the specialist experience in the guise of an interim employee. Bringing in a senior executive with extensive experience who can help shape company strategy, develop teams and guide current employees, on a temporary basis, can be invaluable to smaller companies. Huge improvements can be made to working practices, insight and knowledge gained, all within a short period, without the ongoing commitment and costs of a permanent employee.
A recent survey from the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute found that flexible working, in particular job-sharing, had a hugely positive impact, not only on employee job satisfaction but also on their career trajectory, with 33% of flexible workers stating they had been given two or more promotions in the last five years, in comparison to 24% of non-flexible workers. Offering job sharing, for example to employees returning to work from maternity leave, can also mean retaining a valued worker who may otherwise be pressured to return full-time. The potential result of which could be resentment and eventually the loss of that experienced and valued employee and the added expense of training a new starter to take over the role.
By being open to the different working options, companies can promote a culture of positivity and make theirs one of the ‘companies to work for’. Employees offered flexibility in their role are more likely to remain loyal and feel they are valued members of the team. Being seen as an understanding and open-minded employer can have a hugely positive impact on an organisation’s brand. Utilising the knowledge and experience of a recruitment agency that specialises in recruiting part-time executives, as we do here at Talent Gateway, can help make the transition to flexible employer simple and straightforward for any company.
SMEs may often feel they struggle to compete with larger organisations to recruit the talent they need, with salaries for full-time senior-level executives being prohibitive. By recruiting for the same experience on a part-time basis, organisations can reap the benefits without the risk. With all of the evidence pointing firmly towards flexible working being as beneficial to companies as it is to employees, there seems little doubt that offering part-time and flexible working is a win-win situation for any company regardless of size.