Flexible working has benefits for everyone

In response to Stephen Overell’s ‘Work-life fallacy’ column (Personnel Today, 10 May), organisations need reminding that effective flexible working has benefits for both the employer and employee. It can help to reduce sickness absence, staff turnover and make an employer more attractive.

Most employers know this but don’t translate worthy policies into practice. We have found that people fail to take up flexible-working opportunities because of the perceived impact on their career prospects. Organisations continue to evaluate an employee’s worth by the hours they put in, rather than by the contribution they make.

Consequently, those who want a work-life balance feel guilty and disappointed.

If visibility to senior managers and commitment demonstrated by long hours are your indicators of success, then your flexible workers will be those who are reporting frustration and disappointment.

If staff want or need to combine work with other commitments, then employers must trust their commitment as employees.

Many employers still have serious work to do in genuinely supporting flexible workers.

Mary Mercer
Principal consultant, Institute for Employment Studies

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