Since 2014 all UK employees have had the right to request a flexible work schedule, with millennials the most keen on the idea. In fact, a recent study conducted by Recruitment International found that 62% of the millennial generation expect flexible working to come as a standard. However, of those surveyed, 20% had been refused a flexible working option and 60% of those who had been working flexibly felt they had been judged or penalised.

So how can businesses adapt to this demand and give the newer generation of recruits what they’re asking for?

Well, first of all you need to be examining your company’s culture, and the key way to do this is to hold conversations and come to conclusions at board level before the HR department runs away with it. This will improve communication throughout your organisation and make it easier for employees to actually request flexible working hours without feeling judged.

To actually implement a more agile working environment you also need to be talking directly to employees in order to gauge their attitudes. By holding this discussion you will not only encourage adoption, but find a better way to design a model for flexible working that works for both you and them.

The Challenges

The most critical thing to understand when examining the challenges of flexible working hours is the clear distinction between the top and bottom ends of the labour market. At the lower end it’s often the case that ‘flexibility’ works in one direction; companies expect their staff to be flexible with zero hour contracts, but don’t give any of the decision-making responsibility to their employees.

Conversely, at the higher end, you have employees who want to use flexible working to fit in around their other life goals, such as having children or personal projects, but who aren’t always given the opportunity to do so.

One way to combat these issues is to implement new systems which will allow your employee to request flexible working. Additionally, active campaigns within the business spearheaded by senior staff to encourage ‘two-way’ flexibility have shown great results.

The Results

If adopted properly flexible working can be just as productive for both the business and its employees. Creating a workplace and work schedule that revolves around your staff will dramatically improve employee engagement, meaning boosted productivity and general satiety with their work. In turn this will lead to greater retention rates and improve the attractiveness of working at your company to top talent.

And with this being especially important for the millennial generation, who are set to make up 50% of the total workforce by 2020, you’ll be missing a trick if you don’t.


 

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