One of Europe’s leading business support organisations is urging business owners to consider introducing flexible working in a bid to boost motivation and productivity, slash overheads and retain skilled staff.
According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, 45.9% of UK employees currently have flexible working arrangements.
Experts now believe that flexible working arrangements, such as flexi-time, job sharing and home working, could provide a new lease of life for businesses that are struggling to survive in the current economic climate.
Lesley Meechan, director of Learning and Development at The GO Group, says that employer’s who are looking to flexible working are primarily being driven by concerns over the retention of skilled staff and the need to keep up with competitors.
She said: “Flexible working has many benefits – especially for smaller businesses. Being adaptable and allowing staff to work hours that suit them can dramatically increase morale and job satisfaction, which can have a great effect on productivity.”
She added that by showing a commitment to their staff’s needs, employers can attract a wider range of employees and have their pick of the talent. However, Meechan warns that flexible working must be carefully managed:
“It can be difficult to manage staff who work irregular hours or from home. If you do introduce flexible working to your organisation then you need to make sure that you have strong, effective communication systems in place. Before introducing flexible working, think about the impact this will have on your business. Consider what arrangements will best suit your organisation and how flexible your IT systems are. Try flexible working for a trial period at first – it is best to make sure it works for everyone before making a big commitment.”
The GO Group offers a wide range of training and advisory services.
Advantages of Flexible Working
- Improved staff motivation, morale and job satisfaction
- Greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency
- Savings on overheads, such as office space, if staff work from home
- Opportunity to extend the hours of business
- Flexible working will attract a wider range of potential employees (and therefore a higher level of skills)
- Greater continuity of staff and therefore greater skill retention
- Less stress in employees
- Benefits to the environmental if staff do not have to commute to work
- Organising staff and planning work may be more complicated
- It may be difficult to manage staff and monitor their performance
- Initial costs of providing equipment for home working (eg – a laptop)
- There may be an information security risk
- Increased telecommunications cost
- Difficulty in maintaining staff development and upgrading skills