Flexible Working: the hidden benefits
With a staggering 72% of UK employees wishing that they were offered flexible working and 58% believing that working outside the office makes them more motivated, it can be safely asserted that flexible working is something that the employees want and businesses need to provide if they want to attract the best talent.
Technological advancements over the past decades, such as emails and video conferencing, have simplified communication with co-workers and participation in projects while negating the need to be physically present in the office. As a result, employees no longer require their employees to be at their desks from nine to five five days a week in ordr to be productive. What they do need is to provide their employees with a certain degree of autonomy in terms of managing their time to get the best results.
In spite of the changing dynamic of the working arrangements, only 9.8% UK jobs in 2017 were advertised as being open to flexibility and only one in eight jobs in Scotland mention flexibility at the point of hire. Employers need to capitalise on this untapped mutually beneficial arrangement to attract talent and increase the efficiency of their workforce.
Here are the key benefits for employers to embrace a flexible working policy:
More Autonomy for employees
Flexible working gives employees more control over how they manage their time, schedule, and location. The freedom to balance their busy lives can decrease stress and boost employee morale. The trust placed in them by their employer, and the subsequent increased responsibility, can also motivate them to perform better and take up challenging tasks with increased enthusiasm.
With 56% of employees feeling flustered during their daily commute to work, it is no surprise that 53% feel that they would be more productive if they could work outside the office. When employers relax the office hours or offer work from home arrangements, it relieves the employees from the hassle of peak time travel and the added transportation costs that come with it. This creates an environment where the employees are well rested and waste less time, thus increasing productivity and performance.
Offering flexible working to the employees makes them feel that the employer truly understands their needs and expectations. Cooperation and support from employers results in a strong sense of loyalty and job satisfaction among the employees. A proactive strategy for flexible working ensures higher organisational commitment from the employees as they are more likely to feel fulfilled in their job.
In an age where people switch jobs every few years, businesses can enjoy retention benefits through flexible working - 63% of employees are more likely to stay with an employer who is in favour of flexible working. Since flex employees are happier and more satisfied with their jobs, to the extent that 30% people would choose flexible working over a pay rise if they had a choice, they are more likely to stay with a company that offers this option.
Access to broader talent pool
Through flexible working, companies can attract a larger number of new candidates (especially millennials and people returning to work after a career break) as research shows 70% of workers feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive. Flexibility should not only be offered to the current employees, but also extended to the recruitment of new employees as well. By explicitly mentioning flexibility in their job adverts businesses can reach an extensive range of candidates, thus increasing their chances of hiring the best talent.
The gap between the supply and demand of flexible working cultures in firms provides employers an opportunity to differentiate themselves by supporting flexible working. Doing so not only keeps their current workforce more productive, happy and healthy, but they also establish a positive company image and attract more diverse talent. Research and industry trends indicate that flexible working will be the norm in near future – this is why businesses should start integrating flexible working into their workforce strategy as the benefits outweigh the potential costs.