To attract a more diverse workforce you need to have a diverse approach to your terms of employment. Find out the top tips for providing flexible work.

Since COVID-19 forced the country to go into lockdown, employers up and down the country have been discovering traditional work forms are not as necessary as commonly thought. Furthermore, the employers allowing their staff to be flexible have reaped a host of benefits.

What is flexible work?

Flexible work has a few different names and can refer to a range of different systems. Some, like part-time work, are incredibly common. Others, such as flexitime are new and upcoming approaches to working hours. Read our short list of different options for flexible work:

Flexitime: Where the employee agrees to a set number of hours or workload within a broader timeframe but can complete that whenever they choose. For example, the agreement might state the employee does 7 hours of work every weekday, at any point between 6am and 7pm.

Compressed hours: An agreement that an employee will complete the regular number of hours or workload but within a shorter timeframe. For example, the employee may complete 40 hours per week, but they want to compress that into four 10-hour days, instead of five 8-hour days.

Annualised hours: Similar to flexitime, an annual hour’s agreement states how much an employee must do over a year, but can choose in whichever period they want to complete those hours.

Term-time working: This involves agreeing a regular working week or period, but that there are set points of the year where the employee will not work, without having to request leave. This is usually requested by parents who don’t want to work when their children are not at school.

Benefits of offering flexible work

1. Productivity

Everyone is different and this rule applies to productivity in the workplace. If your employee knows they work best at 4am, why stop them from doing what they do best?

2. Stress levels

Particularly for parents, committing to work alongside their family responsibilities is incredibly difficult. Knowing that there is a flexible agreement in place that will allow them to attend to both will significantly reduce the stress levels of your employee.

3. Diversity

Different people have different commitments. If you force every single one of your employees to stick to the same structure you will inevitably reject a large swathe of potential candidates for your business. By offering flexible work you increase your talent pool and, in turn, the diversity of your workforce.

4. Motivation

Offering flexible work is a simple and easy way to acknowledge your staff as individuals with individual needs. Research shows that flexibility demonstrates a level of respect that will inevitably motivate your workforce to commit to their role in your company.

Tips around offering flexible work

Although flexible work sounds great it can require specific circumstances to be possible. Here are a few considerations you must make before allowing your staff to reorganise their work life:

Content of their work

Some jobs just have to be done within certain hours. For example, if your employee works in sales or some sort of customer-facing role they have to be present when the customer is present. You can’t offer them flexitime so they are manning the phones at 2am when no one is calling.

In turn, if you are going to offer flexible work to your employees you must also prepare for the difficult conversations in how you cannot allow some staff members to take flexitime.

Strategy of implementation

If your company requires someone present at all times, you will have to establish a system of ensuring staff members coordinate their hours. This works the same as when an employee goes on holiday, but you must communicate that you can’t offer that flexibility if it’s going to cost your company more to do so. In turn, you must remind your staff if you have any hours or bits of work that aren’t flexible, such as meetings or training.

Accountability

If a member of staff is now working independently or without constant supervision, you must agree another way to ensure their work retains an acceptable standard. Some employers establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or agree to a system where the staff member works when a supervisor is present for a set number of hours per week.

Another type of flexible work not mentioned on this page is remote work. We have a full guide detailing the benefits and implementation of remote work.

Providing flexible work
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