Despite legislation and its growing popularity, flexible working is not as widespread as one might think and why some organisations struggle to implement it successfully for the benefit of both employer and employee.
Trust – key enabler of flexible working
Great Place to Work® analysed data from across UK organisations including its own database of the UK’s top 100 Best Workplaces to see what differences there were between average and top performing organisations when it came to flexible working. They found there were six critical factors to successful flexible working. Whilst technology is undoubtedly a key enabler, without a number of other factors in place this was in itself unlikely to make flexible working successful. Of these six factors, trust was the most important.
The six critical factors for successful flexible working identified by Great Place to Work® are:
- Trust – Organisations with high trust cultures have higher rates of flexible working and more successful outcomes
- Organisational culture – as well as trust, there needs to be an enabling culture
- Management – need to understand the business benefits of flexible working and can manage different types of flexible working such as working from home, flexitime, etc.
- Performance measurement – the focus should be on performance and outputs, not on presenteeism
- Processes and resources – employees should have the tools to work flexibly and the right system is in place for managing the different ways people work flexibly
Marianna Roach, Head of Research and author of the report, explained the importance of trust. ‘Employers need to be able to trust employees to find a way of working flexibly that suits them and the business without affecting performance. When trust is high we find that employees are better able to balance their personal life with their work life and there is more collaboration and co-operation between individuals and teams which helps drive innovation. However, trust needs to be within a framework of effective line management, clear objectives and performance management and the right systems and processes to support employees to work in the way that suits them and the business best. Those that do are better placed to reap the benefits flexible working offers.’
- Organisations which already have high levels of trust also have higher rates of flexible working. The UK’s Best Workplaces have trust scores of around 85 percent compared to 55 percent at the average workplace. 75 percent of Best Workplaces offer working from home, for example, compared to just 22 percent of average workplaces.
- Only 63 percent of employees in average organisations think management trusts them to do their job without constantly checking them, compared to 88 percent in Best Workplaces.
- Only 48 percent of employees in average organisations felt they were encouraged to balance their work and personal lives compared to 76 percent at Best Workplaces.