Flexible working is key to tackling absenteeism

Flexible working policies are the most effective tool in reducing absenteeism in the workplace, a new report has revealed.

Research from the Working Families charity and employee benefits company Accor shows that flexible working practices, such as home working, flexi-time and leave options, are those favoured by HR professionals.

These practices allow employees to better manage their personal lives alongside their job, reducing both stress and absence levels, the report said.

Speaking at the launch of the research last week, work and pensions secretary Alan Johnson said the results justified the government’s policy on the right to request flexible working.

The report, based on a survey sent to more than 1,000 UK employers, also found that line managers have a crucial role to play in reducing absenteeism.

Almost 90% of the respondents said line manager involvement was key to getting real results, followed by senior management commitment.

However, the research also shows there is lack of any serious cost/benefit analysis being undertaken.

When asked how much investment was made in introducing flexible working and leave options, and what savings had been achieved, not one respondent gave an answer.

In a separate survey of 1,000 UK employees by research consultancy Alternative Futures and survey specialist Ciao AG, 70% of workers want their employers to offer flexible working.

Despite this evidence, employer group, the British Chambers of Commerce, this week launched its business manifesto, which includes calls for a moratorium on family-friendly policies.


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