Presenting this session are Samantha Clark of Accenture and Janet Davies of Women’s Pioneer Housing. Interesting to hear abo it why both introduced flexible working. For Women’s Pioneer Housing it was to represent the demography they represent. They have less than 50 employees. For Accenture it was to adapt to the changing circumstances in being a large employer (tens of thousands) and the women in the workforce needing to have flexible approaches to returning to the work from maternity leave.
The business case for having a flexible working approach is dependent on the request made and how it fits with the business. For some roles it is appropriate to offer such things as job sharing or compressed hours, for others it’s appropriate to work adjusted hours to meet the needs of the customers. Across both organisations, they have both formal and informal processes, it’s about trust and control with your staff, it has to be inclusive for both men and women, the outcomes need to be consistent, technology is a big enabler and can work well for both small and large organisations.
Interesting to hear how changing life circumstances mean a change in thinking about flexible working. For some people, once they pass the age where their children need to be cared for and commitments need to be met, a difference in family situations can create other demands. Elderly parents, or those in need of care, are probably a less popular reason for needing to have flexible working, and it is encouraging to think that organisations are broadening their definition of what could come under a flexible working request.
Important to be responsive to flexible working demands. This can mean sometimes saying no, coming to a compromise, accepting the proposal, or finding other solutions. In an age when employee engagement is highly sought for, this has to be a core piece of that ambition otherwise you risk losing the discretionary effort of staff, or just lose them altogether. Importantly, the decision must be made according to good business reasons. This helps to keep things objective and removes a perception that a decision may be unpopular.