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Embracing Flexible Working

Embracing flexibility can boost employee productivity and engagement, however, offering it to new hires could upset your culture’s status quo. OCG Senior Consultant, Lucinda Barton, discusses how to make flexible working, work for you.

Although the rise of flexible working is nothing new, a recent survey has revealed that 69% of New Zealand professionals consider work-life balance, including flexible working, a top priority when seeking a new role.

Whilst some employers are getting onboard with flexible working to improve their attractiveness to candidates and engagement with existing staff, in my experience, some fail to truly embrace the principle and end up missing the point in entirely. Furthermore, there are still many employers who fail to see the benefits of this arrangement altogether.

If you’re unsure whether flexible working could benefit your business and how to get the most out of employees working flexibly, read on for my guide on how to embrace this benefit without upsetting your existing culture.

Why Be Flexible?

By providing their workforce with flexible working options, employers can expect to experience increases in morale, engagement, and commitment in their employees. In fact, women in flexible roles have been shown to be the most productive in the workforce, and by employing female staff in flexible roles, Australian and New Zealand employers could save at least $1.4 billion on wasted wages.

Additionally, flexible working conditions can help your business develop into an employer of choice and enable you to attract outstanding candidates whilst reducing turnover of highly valued staff. Primarily, I engage with intermediate to senior level contractors, and these highly skilled professionals are preferring roles with greater flexibility. So, by being more open to the possibility of flexible working with potential new employees, you can immediately broaden your available talent pool. It’s also worth noting that candidates are often more flexible on their hourly rate if they’re given the option to work flexibly, a benefit many clients tend to overlook at their peril.

Why Are Some Employers Reluctant?

As an employer, you have a ‘duty to consider’ any request for flexible working made by an existing employee and can only decline the request if there is a good business reason. It’s likely that businesses may be reluctant to look at candidates who express an interest in flexible working because they fear what impact it could have on others and their culture. This could be especially true if an employer has had to decline a request in the past. There’s also the underlining issue that some Managers find it hard to trust candidates who would be working from outside the office.

Fearing it could disrupt their internal culture, I had a number of clients who initially dismissed the idea of candidates who prioritised flexibility. However, one of these businesses recently opened up to the idea of testing flexible working with their contractors, as they weren’t part of their permanent workforce. Now, they have people working school hours, and the idea of greater flexibility is being widely accepted throughout their workplace. Offering more flexible and family-friendly working schedules resulted in this employer becoming a more attractive place to work.

How to Make Flexible Working Work for You

Suddenly offering flexible working to new staff could upset the status quo throughout your workforce. However, experimenting with flexibility when engaging contractors can provide a fantastic opportunity to see how your existing employees, Managers and overall business practices react to it. If, for whatever reason, flexible working doesn’t work out, these employees aren’t part of your permanent workforce and hence provides less risk to you as the employer.

Whilst a shift of mindset is needed before you can offer this working style to your employees, a further change is required before you can fully embrace flexible working and truly benefit from it. Here are my eight tips on how to successfully embrace flexible working and get the most out of your workers:

7 Tips to Embrace Flexible Working & Get the Most Out of Your Employees


Summary

Through my career in recruitment, I’ve seen clients miss out on talented professionals who could have added real value to their business because they were too quick to dismiss flexible working. Underestimating how beneficial flexibility in the workplace could be, can end up being a costly mistake. If you’re looking to embrace flexible working to better engage your existing workforce and to broaden your talent pool, don’t hesitate to contact me today to find out where to start.

I would love to hear your thoughts on flexible working in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for more interesting blog topics and the latest industry news.

Lucinda Barton

Lucinda Barton | Senior Consultant

With over ten years experience in recruitment across HR, Sales, Marketing, Communications and Research roles, Lucinda has worked in some capacity across almost all aspects of executive recruitment. Her area of specialisation is now Marketing and Communications across the Services Sector including Government.

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