How flexible working fosters diversity, inclusion and a good work-life balance

Andy Milner, Chief Executive Officer
25 September 2018
Two people working at a desk
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Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in the media right now, and many organisations are focusing their attention on creating more inclusive workplaces by forming initiatives for marginalised groups. This is to be applauded as it is only by doing this, these groups become less marginalised. But ironically, through taking such steps other groups can often feel excluded.

It is for this reason that for this National Inclusion Week (24 - 30 September), we’re reflecting on, and reinforcing the importance of our flexible working policy - an initiative which truly includes everyone.

Flexible working plays a key role in achieving a healthy work-life balance. Many employees are juggling family or care commitments, facing financial pressures and other non-work-related issues which leave them at risk of stress. Maintaining a good work-life balance is not only good for your health and relationships, it can also improve your overall mood, productivity, and quality of life.

Benefits of working flexibly

The benefits of flexible working can be wide-reaching as well as long lasting, but it can also provide short term solutions. Compressed and staggered hours can lead to less short-term absences, reduced staff turnover and recruitment costs, and can also attract a wider talent pool leading to more diverse employees, meaning more opportunities to create a truly innovative business.

Investing in employees’ wellbeing makes good business sense, not only in terms of improving performance, raising morale and reducing stress, but also improving commitment and motivation.

The Modern Families Index 2017 states that 57 per cent of parents are more loyal, and 55 per cent of them are more productive whilst working for employees who afford them a good work-life balance. But flexible working isn’t just for parents or office workers; I urge any of my employees, of any age or background, to explore what options are available to help make your working life better.

What can employers do?

As well as placing importance on social value, organisations which place emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance have become very attractive and increasingly popular; especially for millennials who are set to make up 50 per cent of the global work force by 2020. And whilst being able to attract staff from a wider talent pool is certainly beneficial, it’s also important to engage current employees by creating appealing environments and in turn, reasons for high retention rates.

According to a study by Oxford Economics, it can cost up to £30,000 to hire just one new member of staff, with it taking up to 28 weeks to get them up to speed with the business.

There are a variety of ways we as a business are flexible. Options, which of course do always need to be discussed and reviewed within departments, and with individual managers, include working part-time, flexitime, seasonal hours, homeworking or else taking study leave or a career break.

These options can make working life easier for individuals, plus save organisations time and money in the long run, whilst insuring a high level of in-house talent.

A good work-life balance - what can employees do?

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can also be about making small adjustments to the way you currently work. Setting achievable SMART goals can help employees to focus on prioritised tasks (both at work and at home) and at Amey, we offer time management training to support staff to develop this skill.

Taking a break might sound trivial but it really is imperative to set time aside for yourself, where possible, during your working day. Get some fresh air, have a cup of tea, and give your mind a few minutes to re-energise so you’re not straining your brain on long-winded tasks.

It’s also crucial to learn your limit. Sometimes it can be easy to overwork yourself by saying yes to every task presented to you. But you need to assess if you’re able to take on extra work - otherwise you end up putting yourself under more pressure. Learning to say no or delegating to members of your team is often a more useful way to avoid burning out. We also have an employee assistance programme for all members of staff dealing with any difficulties whether at work, or in their private lives.

Businesses need to keep up with the times

The world is changing, so organisations must too adapt. As well as competing for top talent, businesses want people who can advocate for their brand, and it’s apparent offering flexible working is just one way to make sure we attract, and keep the right people, but to also ensure that we are in turn, the right workplace.


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