Retention worries drive flexible working in Scottish firms

Employer’s
increasingly flexible approaches to working hours are primarily being driven by
concerns over the retention of skilled staff and the need to keep up with
competitors, a new study claims.

The
research, conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation across 17 companies in
Scotland’s financial services sector, also found that new legislation covering
parental leave and caring for dependants has persuaded employees to adopt a
more flexible approach.

However,
the report says, flexible arrangements made with individual members of staff
are often left to the discretion of line managers who can be inconsistent in
their approach.

Jeff
Hyman, professor of HRM at Glasgow Caledonian University and co-author of the
report, says the Government needs to monitor the effectiveness of its voluntary
approach of promoting family friendly policies.

“Our
study shows that company policies are currently dictated by business interests
rather than family concerns,” he says. “Family friendly employment also means
different things to different people which makes it difficult to reach
voluntary agreement about the terms of a formal policy.”

The
research team, drawn from several universities, carried out interviews with
managers, staff and unions looking at family friendly working practices.
Findings included:

· a wider spread of policy
initiatives in firms where trade unions are recognised.

· union officials complain of managerial
resistance to new working arrangements and of apathy among members

· the need to recruit and retain staff has
prompted smaller firms to introduce a variety of, usually informal, policies

· the lack of formal policies is partly
attributed to the absence of women in senior management

· the ability of managers to offer flexible
working depends on the time constraints of the employee’s workload and if a
substitute can be found in their absence.

www.jrf.org.uk

By Ross
Wigham

Comments are closed.