National Work Life Week is coming up (10-14 October), providing employers with the chance to showcase their flexible working practices and policies. This annual campaign is led by the Working Families charity and aims to get employers and employees discussing wellbeing in the workplace and to raise awareness about the importance of work-life balance.
What is flexible working?
Now, more than ever, employees value a healthy work-life balance and care about the flexible working and family-friendly policies offered by their employers.
Flexible working comes in all different shapes and sizes and can extend far beyond the hybrid working practices with which many of us have become familiar.
To name a few, flexible working practices can include:
- part-time working;
- job sharing;
- compressed hours;
- flexible hours;
- shift-swapping; and
- four-day working weeks.
Employees have a right to make a flexible working request after 26 weeks of employment. However, employers can also take a proactive approach by creating their own flexible working policies. These types of policies can go a long way in helping employees juggle the demands of work and home life – however, what is in it for the employer?
What is in it for the employer?
Recruitment and retention: Many employers are finding themselves having to get creative with how they attract and retain the best talent, and having a transparent flexible working policy can really help. A recent study has shown that there is still a strong, unmet demand for more flexible jobs. 87% of people want to work flexibly. However, only 11% of jobs are advertised as being flexible. This presents employers with an opportunity to stand out from their competitors and attract the best candidates. Indeed, flexible working also enables employers to widen their horizons and dip into the global talent pool – something that, without flexible working, may have been impossible in the past.
Increased productivity: Several studies have also shown that flexible working increases individual performance, productivity and overall profits, with one study in particular showing that more than half of the companies that have adopted hybrid working practices and allow their employees to vary their work schedules have seen an increase in profits.
Increased employee wellbeing and engagement:For many employers, flexible working can also lead to improved employee wellbeing and increased employee engagement – with this, in itself, creating lots of knock-on benefits, such as reduced rates of absenteeism and a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
Working Families’ top tips on taking part
The charity has created a toolkit for employers on how to support and raise awareness of National Work Life Week.
As part of National Work Life Week, Working Families is holding seminars for employers to attend on a range of topics, including:
- top tips for flexible working;
- team protocols;
- best practice support for working parents and carers;
- Flex for Fathers; and
- bringing out the flex in your small business.
Working Families suggests that change needs to be led from the top down and encourages CEOs and senior leaders to be visibly involved in National Work Life Week and to demonstrate their support for having flexible working policies and practices.
It is important that leaders challenging the status quo are supported whilst new flexible working practices and policies are explored. To help with this, the Working Families charity offers a range of different support resources for line managers and those in charge of implementing change.
In response to flexible working requests, employers should ask the question “why not?” rather than “why?”. This approach can open up innovative solutions and encourage positive change.
For many employers, flexible working practices are becoming less the exception and more the norm, with the benefits being enjoyed by both the employer and employees. However, employers should make sure the policies and practices they have adopted, or are looking to adopt, work for them in practice. Flexible working can come in all different shapes and sizes and what works for one employer may not necessarily work for another.
If you have any questions about flexible working in your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team.