Small Businesses Embrace a Flexible Work Culture

Understand why there is a need for a flexible work culture and how it helps business

An interesting aspect to understand about small businesses—why should there be flexibility at work?

Many small businesses agree that recruiting new employees is the top challenge for them. The number one challenge for businesses with less than 499 employees is even more challenging than the traditionally-mentioned concerns, like increasing profits and cash flow as per Wasp Barcode’s annual State of Small Business Report.

Yuliana Topazly from BuddyWith explains below how flexible working can help the employees of an organisation.

Let's first understand what do workers want.

The Recent research conducted by Smarter Working Hub observes that:

  • 70% of workers think that flexible working environment makes a job more attractive.

  • 66% of whom suffer this at least once a week.

  • 67% of employees wish they were offered flexible working scenarios.

  • 56% of commuters feel stressed or tensed at least once a month.

  • Over half of people believe managers should adapt their skills to manage a remote workforce.

The biggest advantage is flexiwork practices will encourage to hire and retain experienced staff. By offering flexible working hours, we can tap into the wider talent pool, as we can notice that less than 10% of vacancies are advertised as flexible. Flexible practices also increase the commitment and loyalty of employees.

How does "flexible working" functions?

Flexible working is an alternative to traditional set working hours and a way of working that is tailored to suit the employee’s needs, without compromising productivity. It could include work from home, flexible start and finish times, job sharing and many other options. Businesses should not view it as a challenge but rather an opportunity.

According to the recent report by Breathing Space, it is likely to be the main way of working for more than 70% of employers by 2020. Every business needs to develop flexible working practices and understand how it can benefit their business and support their employees. It is about developing modern working practices to fit the needs of the 21st-century employees.

A Taskforce report highlights the benefits of flexible working for businesses, families, careers, older workers, and the population who want a better balance between work and home life and in the current business climate, there is an even stronger case for adopting flexible working practices. Who would have thought?

How is it attractive to parents?

Parents are ignored by many businesses, despite representing a great pool of talent. Hence, they also represent a missed opportunity. According to The Guardian, managers tend to avoid hiring younger women to get around the issue and costs of maternity leave. When surveying 500 managers in the UK, the findings were that --‘The cost of maternity leave is too high and women ‘aren’t as good at their jobs’ when they return’.

This tendency to overlook this segment can lead to discrimination, including the notion that a woman returning from a maternity break is not fully committed to work and/or cannot keep up with workloads. With the Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Act in place since 2010, this has partly helped parents in work but has also somewhat contributed to the avoidance of employing this workforce pool.

The only exception being ‘women in tech’. It is shameful to know that there seems to be a lack of information training, sharing, and support for businesses in this space. There are many ways small businesses can engage and motivate this hidden talent to work for and with them, as well as encouraging women to go back to work after giving birth.

What are the customer benefits?

Flexible working practices increase flexibility for customers. In our increasingly global environment, with rising customer expectations of service levels and access to products, offering flexible working may well mean that you can adapt more effectively to your customers’ needs.

Thus, a lot of businesses think it is roughly just a matter of part-time work or flexible hours. It can be much more than that. We can consider including:

  • Compressed Working Hours

  • Working from Home

  • Job Sharing

  • Career Breaks and Study Leaves

  • Work Shifts and Multiple Locations

Companies that offer flexible working opportunities to all its employees, irrespective of legal obligations, find that their employee engagement and satisfaction ratings are higher than others. Also, they have a good reputation for balancing business and employee needs. It’s time for small businesses to realise the benefits of flexible working and look at introducing these practices in order to support growth and attract and retain the talent they require. A happy employee is a productive employee.

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