At Mykidstime and Digital4Sales, we’ve always encouraged our employees to work flexibly, because we are parents ourselves and we know how tricky it is to juggle work and kids! But if you’ve been wondering what the benefits to your business would be and how to facilitate flexible working, Karen O’Reilly from Employmum.ie has given us some tips. Here are 5 Practical Steps Companies Can Take to Facilitate Flexible Working:
The current rate of unemployment in Ireland stands at only 6%, and if employers want to recruit and retain quality people, they need to start thinking outside the box. Offering flexible working conditions will certainly widen the net for employers as skilled, qualified and educated Mums will be encouraged to re-join the workforce. At the moment, we have nearly half a million women who state their role as ‘home duties’ on our last CSO.
Flexible work offers many obvious advantages to the working parent, but there are numerous benefits for the savvy employer on the flip side as well
- Cost savings – office space, office equipment, utility costs, insurance etc – these are estimated to be approx €10,000 per employee
- Increased employee retention – good people will stay with you for the long haul if you offer them some degree of flexibility so why lose some of your best assets, i.e. highly skilled, knowledgeable staff, because you weren’t willing to bend a little?
- Better morale, increased loyalty and productivity – employers who fear that offering flexibility will reduce productivity are in for a pleasant surprise as studies have shown quite the opposite
- The competitive edge – the pool of talent is greatly increased and a company will have access to the top tier of talent – many of whom will have been overlooked by other traditional employers
- Reduced absenteeism (happier employees!)
So, how can companies facilitate flexible working and attract this untapped resource?
#1. Make It Clear When Recruiting
When recruiting, consider if the role can be done flexibly – advertise with agencies like Employmum to attract returners and quality people. Use terms like ‘flexible work conditions’, ‘flexible hours’ ‘parent friendly’ in order to attract the professional parent who cannot work full time.
Not only will you reach out to professional parents, your CSR image will be greatly enhanced as well.
#2. Engage Your Employees
Talk to them about the flexibility they need and work with them to create a suitable flexible work schedule.
Ascertain what functions within the business can be done in a flexible way and how they can be done most effectively, with your employees input.
Decide on a way of measuring performance in each department in conjunction with managers and staff.
#3. Develop Your Flexible Working Strategy
After staff consultations and once you have decided on your work flexibility format, develop your strategy for flexible working whereby policies are set out clearly, without ambiguity.
Decide what departments and what personnel will have access to flexible work conditions – not all staff will be suited to flexible working due to the nature of their position and/or the personality of the staff member. Be careful not to discriminate!
Ensure that the new strategy has been clearly communicated to all staff.
Review current employment contracts and have your legal team look over new contracts to avoid any issues, so that all your legal ducks are in a row to avoid any issues in the future.
Tip: A code of practice has been devised by the Workplace Relations Commission and is worth reviewing before implementing any flexible work practices.
#4. Train Your Managers
While your staff should essentially be doing the same job, albeit flexibly, your managers will need to be trained to manage their staff in a different way.
Flexible working means being flexible in the ways you manage your staff.
Tip: A trial run is a good idea – try flexible work arrangements for a period of 3 months in one department then collect the data, investigate whether staff productivity has been affected and communicate with staff and managers to ascertain whether it has worked for them or not.
#5. Communication is King
Going forward, communication will be a key factor to the success of your flexible work arrangements.
- For remote workers, over communicate if anything and give constant feedback to employees.
- Schedule conference calls regularly and organise team meetings online and in person.
- Use the 30/30 appraisal rule – 30 minutes every 30 days until you feel the flexible system is working.
- Where teams are being managed, social outings would be important to factor in as well especially if they are not meeting each other regularly
Employmum is a flexible recruitment agency that matchmakes professional parents seeking flexible work arrangements to forward thinking companies with flexible roles.
Our bespoke service means that we save employers time and money and source the perfect candidate for your business.
We have a large database of skilled and experienced candidates seeking flexible roles: part time, job sharing, remote work, flexible hours.
We’d love to hear about your experience of offering flexible working in your business and how it has worked for you – tell us in the comments below.