Is rejecting flexible working harming your business?

According to a TUC poll, one in three requests for flexible working are being turned down and this rises to nearly two thirds for those in “working class” occupations.  

I’m not surprised by this or by their finding that 3 in 10 workers say they would look for a new job with flexible hours.  It’s not the first time I’ve blogged about this.  

There are many businesses who do flexible working well, those who have embraced it and understand the benefits to the business.  At the same time there are many more who have not.  

So many businesses start from a position of distrust, the instinctive response is “no”.  Employees legally have the right to request flexible working once they have 26 weeks service, employers equally have the right to say no (albeit with specific reasons).  Saying “no” an easy default, keeping work as it always has been. It’s also shortsighted as may harm your business. 

The people out there looking for work want flexibility, whatever that flexibility means to them and for whatever reason they want it.  Flexible working is not just for parents! Even with the right to request at 26 weeks service, many people will not take the risk of taking a job in the hope they get flexible working. 

I’ve spoken to many people who have either not applied or pulled out of recruitment processes where lack of flexible working is evident.  Companies refusing to consider flexible working or asking staff to wait 26 weeks before considering it are losing good staff.   

Flexible working is good for business, it will help with recruitment and attract candidates and not just those looking for flexible working right now.  Your workforce will be happier and more productive, reducing stress from balancing life and work will improve performance in work. Staff turnover will reduce, once someone has the lifestyle they want that balances work and home, they’ll want to keep it.  

Exactly how flexible working can be offered will depend on the nature of your business.  But, take time to consider the options, whether there are new ways of doing things and how you can make it work.  When it comes to recruiting and retaining staff offering flexible working is just one of the things that puts you in a competitive position.  

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