After the lifting of COVID-19 there is still reluctance by some workers to return to the office and a growing need for firms to offer flexibility in working patterns to retain and recruit staff, says Adrian Lewis, Director at Activ People HR.
New data from XpertHR has revealed that 97% of UK organisations have deployed some form of hybrid working, and, despite the trend for employers to call for return to a largely office-based future of work, candidates were placing flexible working as the top priority in the recruitment process, above pay.
Another recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute[i] has found that close to a third of businesses have cut their office space as a result of bringing in hybrid working models. The vast majority have adopted a combination of home and office working for their teams, with an average of 44% of staff back in the workplace at least some of the time.
Adrian says, “Hybrid working is here to stay, and employers need to adapt to the new ways of working. Many employees are now demanding some kind of flexibility in their working patterns and in certain sectors, where there are talent shortages, some will vote with their feet if this can’t be accommodated.
“To avoid losing valuable staff to competitors employers need to work out how to manage flexible working successfully so that it works for employees and the business. This is going to become even more important after the Government is proposing giving employees the right to ask for flexible working from day one.”
The UK government is proposing that employees will have the right to request flexible working from the moment they start a job (instead of after 26 weeks), with companies obliged to explain their reasons if it is then refused[ii].
Companies that fail to take flexible working seriously could lose out in the war for talent. A poll of UK workers by EY[iii] in July, found that four in five wanted flexibility where they worked, and 47% went as far as to say they would consider changing their jobs if flexible working wasn’t an option.
Adrian adds, “It can be challenging for companies to work out how they can introduce flexible and hybrid working permanently, and not just as a response to the pandemic. However, it’s clear many will have to now as this has become a reality for many employees, and they see no reason why this should change after proving it can work in the short term.
“The key is to have the right IT systems to ensure the business doesn’t suffer and functions efficiently no matter where staff are based. A good HR system, which includes absence management software, gives managers visibility of where people are during the working day, ensuring the day runs smoothly and the business is fully staffed.
“Managers can keep track of staff working flexibly, as well as record absences and holidays, providing transparency and clarity across the business. This ensures clients continue to get a great service and the workforce know they won’t be covering for colleagues who may be working at home.
“Offering flexible and hybrid working is an important employee benefit and those businesses that can manage it successfully will win out in the long term by retaining happy and motivated staff and find it easier to recruit talent.”
For more information on Active People HR visit: www.activpeoplehr.co.uk.