The working life
Driven by economic pressures and changing personal aspirations, the last twenty five years have seen a steady move towards greater flexibility in working practices.
Increasingly companies are recruiting part time workers: working mothers, the semi retired, or younger people are all choosing to work on a part-time or temporary basis either to get experience when jobs are scarce or to leave time to pursue other ambitions.
Flexible working and avoiding over-long hours can be a good thing. Workers may benefit from reduced stress and ill-health, while delivering improved productivity and quality of work. For employers, managing more flexible working patterns can be a mixed bag. Coping with absences due to holiday cover, increased maternity (or paternity) leave, or other career commitments can put a strain on the business, leaving them under-resourced and faced with supply uncertainty at critical points.
On the other hand, a larger pool of short term contractors, temporary workers, and self employed homeworkers can help companies facing precarious trading conditions and rising overheads. Such flexibility benefits workers as well as providing vital short-term support for employers coping with key skills shortages or fluctuating demand patterns. Businesses should remember though that where customer service is an important element of delivery, it’s necessary to establish a sense of continuity and make all staff aware of company values – both in giving them security and ensuring a positive attitude.
Evidence supports the business case for adopting flexible working, both for improving individuals’ work-life balance as well as making a positive contribution that impacts directly on the bottom line. It’s important though that on whatever basis they are working, all staff must share common business goals and aspirations – in our case, that’s means putting clients first.
What’s your experience as an employer or an employee? Is flexible working a boon or a headache?