Why should organisations and businesses, small and large, welcome flexible working? Apart from legal obligations, what is the business case for doing so? Identifying sound business reasons for flexible working strategy will not only assuage concerns which some organisations have flexibility issues; it will also provide an opportunity to look at and make positive changes in the way work is organised – the win-win situation which mutually benefits the business and the employee.
There are a range of benefits which accrue, and which can have a real impact on the bottom-line and these are set out below. It is important to remember that the business case for work-life balance policies may work well in tandem with other company initiatives, like wellbeing programmes, for example. And it is vital to appreciate that the employees who who wish to work in a different way still retain the knowledge and skills that not only allowed them to do their job, but also the intangibles like relationships with colleagues and understanding of the company culture and ethos which can be of huge value in effective working.
Retaining your staff
Organisations invest a significant amount in training and developing staff.
Most managers would agree it is worth building on an existing team and holding on to people with skills, expertise and a proven track record, rather than starting all over again, saving time and money recruiting and developing a replacement. The more experienced an employee is, the more it will cost to recruit and train a replacement.
Related to staff retention, improving organisational efficiency through the benefits of long service (such as institutional memory, industry knowledge, networks and contacts) are benefits you can expect from encouraging, for example, women to return after maternity leave.
For the wider organisation, enhancing public profile, being an employer of choice, enhancing diversity and broadening the recruitment pool are all reasons given for offering more flexible work options. Research indicates that work-life balance opportunities will be a major factor for 21st Century graduates when choosing an employer. If you want to attract good people, then you will need to have a good policies in place.
Morale, motivation and productivity
You can improve your bottom line through improvements in staff morale, their motivation and individual productivity. All three are positively linked to good work-life balance opportunities, where employees feel more in control and are less stressed when reconciling their home and work life. Parents and carers often want to work in different ways than before they had a parental or caring responsibility. Finding ways to do this, perhaps by using flexible working options, will let them give of their best at work.
Flexible working can take many different forms. You need to know what options are available, and what will work best for the business and for the employees. Flexible working can include part time working, job-sharing, flexible working hours and remote of home working. Whatever options you decide to use, the business benefits of offering flexible working include:
1. keeping skills and experience (return on investment)
2. boosting morale by giving people more choice and control over their hours
3. keeping a successful team intact
4. having staff you know and can trust to delegate to
5. saving time and money recruiting and developing a replacement
6. aligning work time with individual peak-productivity time
7. keeping people onboard once they start a family or take on other caring responsibilities
8. increasing diversity to reflect customer/client base
9. strengthening the business by having a mixture of talent and leadership styles
10. flexibility to cover a wider span of hours to meet 24/7 demand
11. lowering stress and/or the impact of personal issues on productivity
13. reductions in travel expenses, office space costs and impact on the environment
14. Improving employee wellbeing as a result of a good balance between work and home life. This can positively impact on absenteeism rates, discretionary effort, loyalty, motivation and morale.