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If you think that flexible working is only something big corporates can offer, you’re mistaken. Many small businesses offer this, to attract the best people. Here’s a bit more about what it is and how it works.
What is flexible working
There are so many variations of flexible working which make it feasible for different industries and sectors employing large and small numbers. The main types of flexible working are:
How can it help you attract great people?
To attract the best staff, you need to be open-minded. In today’s competitive recruitment environment, flexible working is a core part of workers’ expectations. People aren’t coming to work just to earn money – they want to be happy and thrive.
A study of UK businesses and employees by HSBC found that nine in ten employees (89%) consider flexible working to be the biggest motivator to their productivity levels within the workplace – a view shared equally among male and female employees (87% and 90% respectively) – and more so than financial incentives (77%), which is great for small businesses that can’t always afford to pay ultra competitive salaries.
Why people want flexible working?
The reasons why employees request flexible working are varied. It could be because they are seeking a balance in their life, perhaps for childcare, needing to care for family, lifestyle and many others. There is still an assumption in some companies that working part time will stall promotion or be seen as a detriment to career paths, but this needs to change.
A quick overview of how to introduce it in your business
Most companies will have a flexible working policy and form to explain to your staff how the process works and how to apply. You should put the onus is on the employee to put forward what flexible working pattern they are looking for, along with thought out reasons about how they can make it work. The employee really needs to show they have given it thought, and played through situations that could occur if the pattern was accepted and how they would overcome them.
Then upon receipt of the application, you and the employee need to meet and discuss the flexible working application. This is time for you as the employer to get into the detail, and talk about alternatives and things that need to be considered. After the meeting you need to write to the employee with a response either agreeing or denying the request.
Why it’s worth offering it
So why should you give it a try, is there any business benefit to allowing employees to work flexibly? Well, yes there are….
Allowing flexible working gives employees some control over their schedules and autonomy to get the job done at a time that suits them, rather than a culture of having to be in the office. Flexibility reduces the culture of having to be at your desk to be working, in fact employees who are given the scope to work at home are often more productive than office workers, as there is less distraction.
So, if there are so many benefits, why say no. Well in some cases, there is a real reason why working part time or flexibly just won’t work and there are a list of legitimate reasons you can give if what’s being proposed just isn’t feasible:
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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