IGA News

How to be a flexible employer

How to be a flexible employer

28 February 2018

A recent survey by CV Library has found that almost half of employees (47%) cite flexible working as the most desirable workplace benefit they would like to receive. The report Working anywhere: A winning formula for good work?’ – which researched 500 managerial-level employees within medium to large businesses – also predicted that flexible working will be the main way of working for 70% of organisations by 2020. This said, only 1 in 10 job ads in the UK mention flexible working.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is any type of working arrangement that gives some degree of flexibility on when, where and how long an employee works. It means working in a way that better suits the employee and offers them more control over how they work.

The following flexible working options are considered by the Government to be the typical arrangements that employees will request but there may be alternatives or a combination of options which are suitable to both the organisation and the employee:

  • Annualised hours
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexi time
  • Home-working
  • Job sharing
  • Overtime
  • Part-time working
  • Term time working

As you may know, all employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working by law.

Reasons for flexible working

There are a number of reasons why an employee might ask for a flexible working arrangement. It could be to spend more quality time with family or to help facilitate childcare arrangements, such as picking children up from nursery or school. It may be because the employee is more productive working from a different location or at a different time of day. It could simply be that working in a different way fits better with their life outside of work and therefore helps enhance their wellbeing.

An employee could also ask for flexible working due to a disability or health issue, which could be unseen, as not all disabilities are visible. To find out more about these topics, read Ben’s article on how to support disabled people in the workplace and supporting employees returning to work after a long-term illness or injury.

Business benefits

By offering employees flexible working, you’re offering them a work schedule that fits in better with their personal lifestyle. This can help their work-life balance and is therefore likely to improve their overall health and wellbeing. You could even see a difference in their motivation and confidence, and a reduction in signs of stress and sickness absence.

Personnel Today cites that 9 in 10 people would choose an employer that offered flexible working. Furthermore, a study by Regus in 2016 found that if a business doesn’t offer flexible working options, your best employees may look to move to an employer that does. Therefore, a flexible employer may find it easier to attract and retain staff.

How to deal with a request

If you have received a flexible working request, you are expected to deal with it in a ‘reasonable manner’, so make sure you take the request seriously. To find out the steps to handling a flexible working request, visit the Government’s website. An employer can refuse a request if they have a good business reason, but they will need to be able to back it up.


Ben partner with businesses to help them improve the health and wellbeing of their workforces, adding value to support greater employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

They can work with you to create a tailored programme of awareness, training and income generating activities in support of Ben, to suit individual business needs. Visit www.ben.org.uk/Ben4Business to find out more.

About Ben

Ben exists to provide support for life to the people of the automotive industry and their families. They are a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on the four main pillars of people’s health and wellbeing: physical, mental, financial and social.

If you would like to find out more about how Ben can help you, visit www.ben.org.uk.