Although all employees who have been continuously employed for over 26 weeks are entitled by law to request flexible working, a staggering number of companies seem unprepared to deal with these requests, leaving staff feeling frustrated and pigeon-holed into a working pattern which does not treat them as individuals, and which leaves many people either missing out on important life events or being made to feel guilty for taking time off.
In a recent survey conducted by Liberty Mind, it was found that 87% of employees have considered changing jobs due to the lack of flexible working options at their workplace. With this number of employees dissatisfied with the options available, is it time for companies to rethink their working policies, to ensure they are offering a workplace which incorporates some flexibility to ensure their employees feel valued and are able to attend the important events in their lives, without being made to feel they are not working enough?
Flexible working policy
The Flexible Working Policy was introduced in June 2014 to allow all employees the right to request flexible working solutions from their employers. The employer must ‘reasonably’ consider any employee’s request in a fair and thorough manner.
Despite this policy having been in force for a number of years now, there has been little review into its effectiveness or even how many companies are upholding their obligations under this policy.
Furthermore, unfortunately there is still stigma surrounding those who do take up flexible working options. In particular, people who work from home or who work reduced hours are often seen as not working as hard as their colleagues who are in the office for 8 hours or more.
Incorporating flexible strategies
In order to successfully incorporate flexible working in a way that works for everyone, we need to move away from the outdated view that more hours = more productivity, instead focusing on results-driven strategies which consider how much work an employee has completed, rather than the hours they spent in the office.
These days, it’s not just parents who are looking for solutions outside the usual 8-5 working day, and many candidates state the availability of flexible working, including working from home, can make a job just as attractive as a higher salary. However, a very small number of organisations utilise this, leaving many employees feeling trapped in their current role or reluctant to apply for a job they would be well suited to, due to old-fashioned company policies.
It’s not enough to offer alternative solutions if your employees don’t know about them. A good idea could be to include suggestions of how your organisation is able to incorporate flexible working in job descriptions or to discuss options with your recruitment specialist.
You should also incorporate a clear strategy as to how employees can request flexible working should they wish to do so, including a policy on how these requests will be handled.
Embracing this new way of working could ensure that you attract and keep the very best employees by offering them a comprehensive working pattern which suits them as individuals and doesn’t prevent people from attending the life events which are important to them.