Is Your Organisation ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’?

Thursday 17 January 2019
CMI, along with other members of the government’s flexible working task force, is calling on employers to advertise jobs of all levels and pay grades as flexible by including the strapline: ‘happy to talk flexible working’
woman working from home

Flexible working can mean many things: working from home, working compressed hours, working term-time hours, part-time or flexi-time working. It has become an umbrella term to describe working patterns that fall outside of traditional 9-to-5 office hours.

But whatever form flexible working takes, the benefits are clear: flexible working supports wellbeing, promotes diversity and inclusivity and can transform productivity. Flexible working means empowering employees, avoiding digital presenteeism, equipping line managers, championing change and actively supporting health and well-being. Recent GEO research also shows that improving workplace flexibility for both men and women can help to close the gender pay gap. Here are the benefits in more detail:

1. Flexible Working Can Improve Well-being

CMI research shows that long working hours affect the wellbeing of managers: 54% say that working hours have a negative effect on their stress levels. Stress was more than three times more common among those working long hours: 20% of those working over three hours a day extra said they are often stressed, compared to only six per cent of those working no additional hours.

Improving flexible working practices will help employees to manage stress and boost their mental well-being.

2. Flexible Working Can Boost Productivity

Employee engagement and productivity is another key benefit of flexibility at work. In a recent YouGov survey, 63% of employees who felt supported by their line managers praised benefits such as flexible hours, and CMI research has shown that around half (48%) of managers believe that flexibility makes for a more productive workplace.

3. Flexible Working Supports Diversity And Inclusion

The CMI Blueprint for Balance report sets out how flexible working can help to improve the gender balance of a workforce. Supporting women to work more flexibly – for family or non-family reasons – allows them the same opportunities for career progression and promotion as men and is sound business sense.

At the same time, encouraging men to work more flexibly can make it easier for families to rebalance childcare duties and allows more men to enjoy the many benefits that arise from flexible working.

Two-thirds of managers agree that flexible working has supported their career. This is particularly true for female managers (71%, compared to 57% of male managers). 64% agree that it creates a more family-friendly culture.

Read more: Case studies that showcase the benefits of flexible working

For these reasons and more, CMI is encouraging employers to use the ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ strapline when recruiting, to advertise their commitment to flexible working. The strapline – developed by Working Families – sends out a clear message to candidates that the employer is open to negotiating working hours. This will give applicants the confidence to ask about alternative schedules when applying for a role.

So, are you ‘happy to talk flexible working’?

The Flexible Working Task Force was established in response to the recommendations of the Taylor Review which focused on achieving fairness for employees in today’s modern workplaces. Its purpose is to widen the availability and quality of flexible working across the economy.

Rob Wall is head of policy at the Chartered Management Institute