Want to retain great employees? Offer flexible working hours

Published · 3 min read

Are you an employer struggling, like many businesses, with the challenge of recruiting and keeping good employees? Perhaps offering flexible working hours is something you have already been looking at, in order to improve retention, productivity and morale?

Recent research shows employees rank flexible hours as a top priority and this may be the incentive for you to begin offering it as a core part of your employee benefits package.

BT’s ‘Mobile Multiplier Report’ questioned 1,528 European office workers about their ideal employer, and found that 76% of employees ranked flexible working among their top three priorities in a benefits package. Meanwhile, 67% of those questioned, ranked flexibility as more important than being offered a company car.

Another survey by specialist hire company Andrews Sykes and market research firm Atomik Research took a different view, asking employees specifically about benefits they would appreciate during the summer months. The results showed 43% of these workers wanted flexible working hours.

In fact, flexible hours were prioritised so highly, that workers suggested they would forfeit other benefits, such as subsidised gym membership or healthcare, in exchange for more flexibility.

Some respondents even stated that they would consider sacrificing £5,000 of their current salary in exchange for a flexible schedule.

Why do employees view flexible working hours so highly?

Among the huge range of benefits often offered to employees, it may seem strange that flexible working so consistently comes out on top. However, for many employees, being able to control their schedule can mean a great improvement in quality of life.

There are many reasons why employees value flexible working so highly. Single-income households, for example, are now much less common than they were in the past and for families, it’s usual for both adults to work either full or part time.

This can lead to a juggling act of balancing work, family demands and other life responsibilities, which when attempted with traditional 9-5 hours can leave workers feeling burnt out and demotivated.

Flexible hours co-ordinated between two working parents can greatly cut down on childcare costs as well as allowing them more opportunity to be with their family.

It can also enable a working parent to attend a child’s school play, take an elderly relative to an important hospital appointment, or even something as simple as being home for a repairman, which could relieve an otherwise stressful situation.

For other employees, time saved on commuting when they are able to work from home affords a better work-life balance, while flexible start and finish times at the office avoids rush-hour traffic, which significantly cuts down on stress.

Flexible working can be beneficial both to employers and employees
Flexible working can be beneficial both to employers and employees

Do flexible working hours benefit employers too?

Yes. All of the benefits to employees mentioned above have a substantial impact on employers too. Employees who have a better work/life balance and feel more in control of their schedule, will come in to the office more refreshed and positive.

Productivity and engagement are also increased along with improved morale. Meanwhile, flexibility is an attractive prospect to potential employees, positively impacting on hiring the right people for your business.

Offering flexible work patterns can positively impact the level of service that a company can provide, for example it can enable customer-facing departments to operate over extended hours. The flexible schedules also make the employer a good choice among working parents.

What types of flexible work patterns can your business try?

There are many different options when it comes to implementing flexible hours at your company. Here are a few worth trying:

Part-time working

Many roles don’t need to be delivered in the traditional five day a week, nine-to-five pattern. By looking carefully at the role requirements and deliverables, you may find excellent employees who can deliver results on a three or four day week.

Flexi-time contracts

They often have certain core hours, usually the equivalent of 50% of a working day, and your staff can make up the remaining hours around the times they choose.

Compressed hours

They involve your employees working the same number of hours over fewer days, for example working full time hours over four days instead of five.

Working remotely or from home

Done either most or part of the time can work well for your employees – it’s worth putting appropriate technology is in place to make this a reality for them. Remote working could also allow your staff to commit to more hours, for example working full time where they would have only been able to offer part-time hours if they were office based.

Job shares

These are increasingly common and split the role of a full-time job between two people, ensuring the post is covered at all times whilst giving flexibility to two of your employees.

Has your business embraced flexible working hours or is it something that you are considering? Let us know in the comments below.

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