Articles

Managing Flexible Working Requests effectively.

Flexible working is a general term that covers a variety of different working practices. Some of the more common flexible working methods include:

  • Working from home regularly
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexitime
  • Zero hour contracts
  • Part Time working
  • Career Breaks
  • Annual Hours
  • Term-Time Hours
  • Job Sharing

Employees have has the right to request flexible working by law since 2014 and in 2018, 42% of people working in the public sector said that they worked flexibly in some form whilst only 21% work flexibly in the Private sector.

According to a study by Aviva, almost a quarter of UK Workers have moved jobs to find greater flexibility and a fifth feel a flexible working request would be rejected by their employer**.

After the recent Covid-19 pandemic it is expected that there will be a shift towards more flexible working practices, not just in the short term. Companies such as Facebook recently said it planned to move towards having a remote workforce and Twitter have said their employees can work from home “forever” if they wished.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister last month suggested a four-day working week along with other flexible working alternatives in order to improve work/life balance issues and to boost tourism in the country. New Zealand already have 50% of its workforce working flexible hours, a third of which work from home. 

The challenge will be to move away from traditional ‘old school’ thinking as there is still a high degree of hostility towards flexible working.  A 2018 Survey (Eurobarometer 470 work-lie balance study) found that 32% of managers or supervisors actively discouraged flexible working practices. 30% thought that it would be damaging to their careers and 30% found their work colleagues disapproved.

Whilst there a some drawbacks with flexible working, such as employee taking advantage of say working from home by slacking off, the benefits can outweigh the negatives.

 

If managed properly, flexible working can help organisations increase productivity, improve well-being, improve job satisfaction and loyalty, reduce absenteeism, and attract higher quality talent. Additionally, it can help make the business more responsive to change.

 

The key to successfully achieving the benefits flexible working has to offer,  is communication with your employees and providing a suitable HR system that has built in workflows that are compliant with legislation. This is vital to any business to ensure flexible working requests are processed efficiently.

The system must have a facility for employees to make requests electronically via Self Service eliminates the need for paper forms that cannot only be inefficient, but also be another area of vulnerability in relation to GDPR where paper documents containing personal information can be lost or stolen especially when dealing with high volumes of requests.

Intelligence must be integrated within the systems processes such as checking the employee has been with the company for more than 26 weeks and also that they have not made a request within the past 12 months to help comply with legislation.

Giving the relevant Line Manager or HR User access to the system to easily track and manage each stage of the process electronically not only saves time but also provides an audit trail of all communication as part of the process. Automatic notifications of any tasks or updates as the request is being processed will help ensure the request is processed efficiently.

Additionally, the system needs to have the ability to generate a letter that can be sent to the employee with the decision of their request. The letter needs to be also stored on the employees record within the system for easy access.

Finally, employees should have the opportunity to appeal the decision via their self-service access to the system.

By implementing a system that can provide you with all of this functionality will provide your organisation with a clear, specific, and consistent method for flexible working requests to be submitted and processed that makes you more efficient and compliant when managing flexible working requests.

Contact us to find out how we can help streamline your Flexible Working Requests using PeopleFirstHR.

 

*https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/governmentpublicsectorandtaxes/publicspending/articles/workingflexiblyinthepublicsector/2019-09-20)

** (https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2019/03/one-in-four-uk-workers-have-quit-roles-for-greater-flexibility/)