How flexible working can meet a work/life balance for a happier new year

Here at Anne Corder Recruitment, we recently offered advice to our clients and local businesses to show how good work and flexible working go hand in hand. It can help fulfil the normal out-of-office-hours expectations of customers and provides busy parents or individuals with the opportunity to meet their own childcare, family or personal well-being needs. Keep reading for the full press release…

In recent times, the 9-5 working day hasn’t always been the most staff-friendly way for businesses to run. More and more people are re-thinking their hours at work in order to enhance their work/life balance.

A rigid working arrangement can be uncompromising for families, and sometimes may not actually meet the needs of businesses or their customers. For example, those who also operate overseas, or in industries such as education or hospitality, may need to shift their hours, so they are available when their customers need them.

Our recruitment partner, Nel Woolcott, says: “Not only goes government legislation make it easier for staff to request flexible working hours, but from a productivity point of view, research shows engaging part-time staff, or allowing flexible working, can be good for business.

“Companies are increasingly adopting different start and finish times, leading to a reduction in staff absences and improved staff morale and productivity.

“There is also an argument that offering flexible working arrangements help businesses to attract and retain key staff by adopting less traditional structures including compressed hours, home working and temporary or part-time contracts.”

As a business owner or manager, the key here is understanding how best you can make flexible working options work for you, to continue to get the best output and performance from your team. It may be that you look at how the company is structured, monitor activity levels during the day and, probably most importantly, communicate with staff with regards to what’s expected from them.

Nel continues: “If, for instance, most orders come into your business overnight via email, it makes sense to have a concentration of processing staff available in the morning. Businesses which see themselves as a ‘traditional company’ can still adapt their practices to suit a modern-day workforce. Perhaps a shift in mindset is necessary. Don’t think of it as ‘having staff in and out at odd times’ but more about organising working hours to suit the business.”

Industry figures show that the number of people working ‘flexible hours’ has increased five-fold in the last two decades – from 9.5 per cent in 1999 to the 54 per cent in 2019.

Some companies have explored the option of ‘time banking’ with their staff to allow the business to cope with peaks and troughs in workload, and have found this both helps boost morale, and meets important business needs at key times in the year. For examples, a staff member may be on a contract of 35 hours per week. During peak periods, however, they may wish to work 45 hours in order to ‘bank’ the additional 10 hours for when demand is lower. They may then want to use this banked time for a school sports day or Christmas play, and want to leave earlier than usual.

Flexible working can also be a major contribution to a person’s well-being; it can have a knock-on effect of increased happiness, job satisfaction and productivity.

The Recruitment & Employment Federation commissioned research on flexible working in the UK, focussing on temporary agency workers, contractors and freelancers working through employment businesses. Findings included:

  • Two in five British adults have been a temporary agency worker, contractor or freelancer at some point in their working lives.
  • The gender balance of people who have been flexible workers is fairly even (47 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men)
  • One in four people aged under 25 have been a flexible worker, as well as two in five of those aged over 25.
  • People choose flexible work for a wide variety of reasons, including fitting in with school or other carer hours and their own well-being.
  • Flexible work helps people to progress in their careers. Two in three people who have previously been a flexible worker are now on a permanent contract.
  • Recruitment agencies play a vital role in facilitating flexible work. The vast majority of employers and workers who use recruiters are happy with the service they provide.

If flexible working is not something you’ve officially introduced to your business yet, 2020 could be the year to change that, and really see the benefits.