#3 fears that stop small businesses approving flexible working requests

12th March 2018

Flexible Working! It’s not all about lie-ins and tea breaks, it actually has a lot of business benefits around productivity, reduced absenteeism and more. Here we cover 3 fears that lead to businesses saying ‘no!’

You have a legal obligation to offer flexible working (but just not accept it)

As an employer, you need to offer the right for your employees to apply flexible working. Almost all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service have the right to ask for flexible working. However you also have the right to decline a request. As long as you have a valid reason, which are as follows:

  • the burden of additional costs;
  • a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand;
  • an inability to reorganise work among other employees;
  • an inability to recruit additional employees;
  • a detrimental effect on quality;
  • a detrimental effect on performance;
  • insufficient work at the times when the employee proposes to work;
  • planned structural changes.

You read read more about what flexible working is, the process and why its worth offering it to your staff read more here.

The #3 biggest fears

If you’ve said ‘no’ in the past to a flexible working request or you think there’s no way you could offer flexible working to any of your employees, it because you believe one of the following?

  1. “What if everyone wants to work part time?”

Just because you approved it for one person, it doesn’t mean you have to approve it for everyone! Each flexible working application needs to be looked at on a case by case basis because your employees will have different types of roles, responsibilities and performance levels.  Allowing an employee to work flexibly is also a form of rewarding the right behaviours, this means you may approve a work pattern because an employee is performing well and has a good work ethic.

  1. “If they are not in the office, they can’t do their job”

In 2018, when most employees have access to the internet, video calls and mobile phones, the majority of jobs can be done remotely. But you do need to set boundaries and track the work is being done to your satisfaction at the beginning. It comes down to creating an environment where people don’t feel they have to be in the office to prove they are doing a good job, this comes with an environment where employees are trusted and there is huge business benefit to this.

  1. “Our clients work full time so we need someone full time”

Building a flexible workforce that’s agile and meets the needs of your customers is key. Working flexibly can enhance your clients experience – not detract from it. Job shares and different working patterns can mean your clients get quicker responses and greater support without it costing you an more.

My final thought on flexible working is don’t fear it – embrace it. This is the new world of work and employees want to work flexibly.

If in doubt test it out. There is no reason why you can’t allow a flexible working pattern on a trial basis. If you see some merit in it, and after reading this can understand why it may be a positive for you and the employee, give it a try (just make sure you clearly state the period of the trial and review dates).

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