Flexible working at Scottish and Newcastle Retail

Scottish
and Newcastle Retail (S&NR) is one of the leading pub companies in the UK.
It manages more than 1,450 high-quality pubs and pub restaurants, as well as a
nationwide chain of budget hotels. To mark work-life balance week, Personnel
Today found out how the company is introducing flexible working policies.

The
organisation believes it is already ahead of the game when it comes to flexible
working. Mandy Blair, head of HR policy and reward, explains: “I read an
extract from a recent survey conducted on behalf of the DTI which stated that
46 per cent of jobseekers put flexible working as the top benefit required from
employers. Furthermore, this survey showed the number of companies that are considering
introducing flexible working arrangements is still relatively small, so
increasing numbers of employees are requesting more flexibility.

“This
is where S&NR has the leading edge. We believe we are the only pub company
investing time and effort into making this work.” 

S&NR
has obtained DTI funding to enable it to implement some of these trials, and
Deloitte & Touché are providing facilitation and project management
support. If the trials are successful, the company hopes to roll out these
initiatives towards the end of the year.

Changing
working practices

In
the central offices there are different types of trials taking place in
different areas of the business. With more than 850 central employees, it will
take some time to give a complete face-lift to working arrangements, but Blair
is confident it can be done.

“This
is all about changing the way we work; not only ensuring we are aligned to meet
business demands but also making people more attuned and engaged to deal with
these demands effectively,” Blair says. “Employees should not only be giving
100 per cent to work, but also to their free time.”  

Increased
productivity

“The
only way to optimise productivity is to acknowledge this demand for improved
work-life balance.  At the end of the
day you cannot ignore the statistics, people these days want a more flexible
way of working; whether it be those returning from maternity leave or those
wanting a six-month sabbatical, an ideal balance can be made and work can be
organised to accommodate both business and individual needs.”

Team
member’s toolkit

Through
a number of working parties and focus groups, the company has developed two
tool kits; one for managers and one for team members. The team-member tool kit
details individual’s legal rights and contains self-diagnostic questionnaires
that individuals wishing to make a business case for flexible working can
complete and present to their managers. 

Manager’s
toolkit

The
manager’s kit provides guidance on how to process such requests, and looks at
all the implications and options involved, with the aim of encouraging them to
think about how to increase the effectiveness of their team and to work
smarter, not harder.

The
toolkits aim to:


Measure people against performance objectives, not how many hours they spend
behind their desk


Encourage each manager to work with their team to develop their unique approach
to flexible working that meets both the needs of the business and the team


Respect the need for business and customer focus while trying to accommodate
team members’ requests


Encourage employees to be as flexible as possible, in line with the company’s
people values


Encourage people to do a great job during their working hours

Culture
change

So
far, the results are positive. In the central stock team, 35 staff are part of
a trial that is looking at changing the old culture of having set working
hours. Each employee now works hours that are suited to fitting in other
commitments, such as the school run and holidays. The team has found that
working compressed time of nine days every fortnight with longer daily hours is
much more flexible.

Annualised
hours

In
the food development centre, employees are trying out an annualised hours
scheme, which is a flexible way of working full annual hours, but working them
according to the demands of business. The team works longer hours in peak
periods, but in quieter periods employees can take more time off. For example,
team members might work six days a week in the busy summer period and only three
days a week in the autumn, when demands on business are less. This initiative
has been welcomed by team members, who accept that the most is made of their
resource when the business really needs it.

However,
changing the nine to five working day is still a new thing and some people feel
uncomfortable breaking with tradition. The company sees helping employees to
realise the mutual benefits of flexibility and encouraging new ways of working
as the way forward.

Future
initiatives

S&NR
is also looking at a whole host of different things to produce a work-life
balance package. For example, it is considering introducing childcare vouchers,
sabbaticals, an on-site back care scheme, and teaming up with major retailers
to provide an online shopping service for staff complete with discounts. Links
with nurseries, dry cleaners and even Weight Watcher classes on site are also
being considered.

“We
are serious about improving work-life balance for all employees and are aiming
to be leading edge in our industry,” says Blair. “We are focused on engaging
our people to make our vision of inspiring service really live, and believe our
commitment to work-life balance will help.”

Comments are closed.