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Flexible working requests – what to consider

Whether you’ve had a flexible working request and you’ve just approved it, or whether you’re considering hiring a flexible employee, you should know that flexibility doesn’t have to last forever.

For a professional working mum, flexible working can be a lifeline to keep careers on track as they seek to balance their home and work lives.  It usually lasts around seven to ten years, so if an employee comes to you with a flexible working request, it usually means they are at the start of that cycle and have no choice but to find flexibility. This doesn’t have to be part-time necessarily – it can mean an early start of later finish for example.

In our experience, that flexibility requirement is most intense when the children are young and you’re balancing nursery and school hours. As the children grow and families find their groove, that can change.

When kids start at primary, because of wraparound childcare, it means professional mums have more time to allocate to work. When they start secondary, even more time is freed up for the professional mum. Your business may even already offer childcare vouchers to help them organise this childcare.

Here are five reasons why should you approach flexible working requests with careful consideration:

  1. Flexibility isn’t forever

For most working mums, flexibility is a short-term solution to help them balance their lives.

So if they come to you, realise it’s not forever and that it’s better to keep that employee (and maybe fill the gap with another part-time employee), rather than lose an experienced person you’ve invested in and who knows you and the company well.

  1. Flexible needs can change

All sorts of things can happen meaning that an employee’s flexibility needs can change. So, for example, while an employee might want flexible working for say, a year, they could then realise that they might not need that flexibility after all, or they might wish to earn more money by increasing their hours again. It costs a lot to recruit a new member of staff, so don’t let them walk before you’ve given it a go.

  1. You’ll retain talent you’ve invested in

You may have invested thousands of pounds in training, salary and experience in your employee, but by offering a short period of flexibility in an overall lifetime of a career, you can retain all those skills and experience and have a happy employee who over time, can return to full-time hours. It will save you having to approach a recruitment agency again and thereby keep your costs down.

  1. You’ll boost employee wellbeing

Employees who feel their needs are listened to are often more productive and happier overall, taking fewer sick days and putting in greater discretionary effort. Plus you’ll be a workplace that puts its staff at the heart of its business. And if it’s good enough for Richard Branson, it’s certainly good enough for us.

  1. You’ll improve workplace diversity

If UK businesses continue to lose their female staff who go on maternity leave, we’ll fail to see women break the glass ceiling and the gender pay gap will remain in place. Look at the bigger diversity picture, and recognise that by considering flexible working requests favourably, you’re doing your bit to keep women in the workplace.

If you’d like to find out how flexible working can help to boost your business, please do contact our flexible recruitment agency today. Call Jane O’Gorman on 07943 519380 or email today.

3 min read