Smart working is key to employee engagement

The somewhat vague concept of smart working can have tangible results for employers, HR directors told delegates at Harrogate last night.

At the annual Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development conference, several HR directors claimed they had improved employee engagement and lowered staff attrition within months of implementing smart working policies.

Smart working involves workplace improvements such as updating technology, altering the immediate work environment and making changes to the work day itself to get a more efficient output from employees.

Genevieve Tennant, HR director for law firm Allen & Overy, said implementing smart working policies for junior associates had cut her attrition rate by 10% within six months of implementing them in late 2006.

“For us, it was absolutely crucial that we addressed this problem head on by opening up the communications channels and making career paths clearer,” said Tennant. “By putting an emphasis on output rather than the total time spent at work, and clarifying the necessary steps for career progression, we found many of our associates were sticking around longer.”

Simon Clementson, HR director for Capgemini Consulting, said he had seen improved retention and engagement thanks to smart working policies, such as allowing employees to choose where and when they worked.

“Most of these concepts really come down to just good, common sense,” he told Personnel Today. “People we interview now actually come expecting we’ll have smart working policies, it’s almost a job requirement.”

Clementson said many of the company’s public sector clients were supportive of smart working policies such as flexible and mobile working.

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