It’s fair to say that these days most employers accept the need for some flexibility in the workplace, whether it’s allowing staff to work from home to wait for a delivery, or not returning to the office after a meeting. But is there an argument to suggest that flexible working can be more than simply an employee benefit and that a flexible working strategy can be beneficial to your business as well?
The workplace flexibility movement began years ago when many organisations launched talent initiatives to accommodate working mothers. Over time though, flexibility options have mushroomed: from compressed workweeks to job sharing, to adjustable schedules etc.
Being a millennial myself, you won’t be surprised to hear that an organisation that offers flexible working hours is appealing to me. But as a millennial I am not alone in this thinking. Organisations now span four generations— Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and the incoming Gen Z-ers, each with different leadership, communication, working, and learning styles, but what we do have in common is a desire for more workplace flexibility.
Moving away from the traditional 9-5 doesn’t mean employees are any less committed to the success of their organisation; in fact, it’s quite the opposite, flexible working can mean greater quality and productivity. And if your workforce is more productive then surely your business will benefit?
From its birth as an employee entitlement, workplace flexibility has grown to become a requirement for organisations that want to make the most of its people’s productivity.
The most successful businesses and teams have the ability to get the most out of the people they have. There is a limit to the number of hours in a week and a limit to the number of people you can employ, so making sure this input works as effectively as possible is one of the key factors to improving productivity and, ultimately, success.
With flexible work schedules, employers experience these benefits:
- Reduced absenteeism and sickness
A study from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute points out that while poor health causes employee absence, being ill does not have to result in employees being absent from work. It suggests that more flexible working options could mean less sick leave, and less absenteeism if illness is managed in a way that is better for employers and employees.
- Encourages dynamism in your business
Having a team who are in and out of the workplace at different times of the day and working remotely at others means your company is always on the move. Staff and employers are not getting entrenched in a particular way of working.
- Increased employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the organisation
All employers want a motivated and productive workforce and flexible working can promote this. Studies have shown that flexible working means your workforce are happier and less stressed and this means you don’t have as much sickness absence to deal with.
- Reduced turnover of valued staff
If your staff are happier in the workplace then this is one of the things that can boost your staff retention. Recruitment can be an expensive and time consuming process. Retention also allows for continuity in the business.
- Increased ability to recruit outstanding employees
Staff retention is great but all companies need to recruit new staff occasionally. Offering flexible working can make your company more attractive to potential employees. Having a reputation for flexible working can give your organisation an advantage and help to tempt the best talent to apply for your roles.
- Fosters better customer loyalty
If your company has a reputation for flexible working customers also appreciate this. These days people like to know they are buying from companies that care about their employees and the community. Flexible working shows customers that the company tries to take staff needs on board. You are seen as a progressive, forward thinking company.
- Gives staff more control
Flexible working gives staff a feeling of having more control over their work time and free time. This means they are more willing to work under their own initiative and are often more prepared to go the extra mile.
Not all flexible working ideas will work for every company, but the basic foundations are the same. Whatever the size of your company; trust, communication and technology are all vital for a successful strategy. The benefits of flexible working depend on the nature of the business. How it operates, what its customers need and how its people work but it’s likely all companies will see the impact of having an engaged and happy workforce will have on its productivity.