Work Wise flexible working Quality Mark welcomed by employers

Employer groups have wholeheartedly backed the Quality Mark launched by skills envoy Sir Digby Jones last week to enable businesses to improve recruitment and retention rates by offering flexible working.

The CBI  and the British Chambers of Commerce joined the TUC and the Equal Opportunities Commission as official supporters of the initiative.

Under the new mark, organisations will gain a recognition stamp for introducing ‘smarter working’ practices, such as non-standard hours and homeworking, into their workplace.

Jones, former director-general of the CBI, claimed the stamp would help organisations attract top employees.

He said: “Those organisations that achieve the Work Wise Quality Mark will be well placed to attract the very best staff, as the labour market becomes evermore competitive, and society becomes increasingly aware of the benefits of flexibility and new ways of working.”

Businesses registering for the seal of approval will have their operational, client and employee benefits working practices assessed by not-for-profit body Work Wise UK over a two-day period.

But some concerns were raised at last week’s Work Wise UK conference about small businesses taking part in this initiative.

One delegate said: “I only have 30 employees in my business. If they all worked from home, there would be no-one left to run the office.”

Another commented: “Extended team-working is not trivial [to manage]. Will there ever be incentive schemes [for employers] to enable flexible working?”

Jones said the Quality Mark was the first step to creating a “smarter working Britain”, but he admitted there was a huge barrier in achieving this aim. Seven million adults in the UK cannot read, and 11 million cannot add up two- and three-figure sums.

He said: “There is a big obstacle going forward. Britain does not have enough skilled people to put the ball in the net. This is Britain’s dirty little secret.”

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