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Published: 24 Sep 2015

Are you happy to talk about flexible working? Does the concept excite or worry you? Do you think flexible working means less productivity, less engagement, or do you dream of being able to work flexibly?

The strapline “Happy to Talk Flexible Working” was developed by Working Families and other interested parties, including the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses, in 2013, but unfortunately the take up has been very poor, with only 6% of posts1 currently being advertised as flexible.

We know from Working Families’ research conducted this year2 that just under half of working parents say there is no flexible working on offer in their workplace, and that nearly 60% don’t leave work on time.

So is there a fundamental flaw in job design, and can it be rectified? We say, yes it can. Working Families has produced a helpful guide Happy to Talk Flexible Working. In this guide, employers can find out how to design jobs in such a way that facilitates flexibility, allowing all employees to benefit from flexible working and enjoy a good work life balance.

So employers, here are some questions to ask yourself when you are designing a job:

– What are the most important tasks this role demands?
– What are the priorities in order of importance?
– Does the job have to be done in the way the last post holder did it?

If you need inspiration, watch our National Work Life 2015 videos. In these videos you will find case studies of employees who have achieved a work life balance that works for them and their families because enlightened employers have designed their posts creatively and imaginatively.

And should you need further encouragement, earlier this week we held the Working Families Best Practice Conference and announced the Top Employers for Working Families 2015 and if you need further proof that flexibility equals productivity, there you can read up about the innovative ways employers are devising to help their employees achieve a work life balance that’s right for them whilst improving productivity.

The Top 10 Employers for Working Families 2015
The Top 10 Employers for Working Families 2015

For example, the National Assembly of Wales3 has decided that every new role that is created or being replaced must accommodate flexible working unless the manager submits a business case demonstrating the reasoning and evidence behind why it cannot. Financial services firm Deloitte has introduced a concept called “Time Out”4, allowing any employee with over one year’s service to request a four week block of extra leave. And the government agency Cafcass has measured impressive results following a wholesale transformation of the way it works, with 94% of staff working remotely once a month, and sickness days decreased by 55%.

And it’s not just large employers who are leading the way. Small and medium sized employers are often trailblazing when it comes to flexible working even though they may not realise it. They are frequently able to be more flexible on an ad hoc basis because they know their employees, but some are now developing policies and practice which allow for flexible working patterns, most notably Working Families’ winners of the Small and Medium sized Top Employers for Working Families awards 2015.

Top Small and Medium Sized Employers for Working Families 2015
Top Small and Medium Sized Employers for Working Families 2015

So now that you’ve had time to consider, are you Happy to Talk Flexible Working? Let us know on Twitter, using the hashtag #happytotalkflexibleworking to @workingfamuk.

By Deborah Granville, Campaigns Manager

1 Inflexible Britain, Timewise, 2015

2 Modern Families Index 2015

3 Working Families Benchmark Report 2015

4 Working Families Benchmark Report 2015

5 Working Families Benchmark Report 2015


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