Op-Ed: The Multi-Dimensional Effects of the UK Flexible Working Bill on Recruitment,Staffing, and Business Landscapes
The Flexible Working Bill is making its way towards becoming law. The bill carries the potential to change the dynamics of work, granting employees the right to request flexible arrangements from the outset of their employment. Employers, in turn, need to seriously consider these requests, offering alternatives if they aren’t able to fully accommodate the request.
What is the UK Flexible Working Bill?
The Bill allows employees to request flexible working from day one of their employment. They previously could only make this request after working at least 26 weeks.
This brings a big step forward for flexible working, recruitment, and staffing. Organisations in the UK will need to understand the opportunities and challenges this opens up. At jelli, we applaud the Flexible Working Bill for creating a leap forward for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Opening up opportunities within organisations that individuals from diverse backgrounds, each with their own unique needs, may have previously overlooked. Bringing with it the added benefit of fresh ideas and innovation.
We have found that those who have in place flexible work arrangements are more likely to stay in the role for longer, as they feel valued for their contributions rather than the rigid hours they keep. Additionally, organisations that embrace flexible working are able to attract and retain top-tier talent – something that often proves challenging. The opportunity for flexible working is exactly this, the flexibility to adapt and accommodate shifts in personal dynamics such as family responsibilities, care commitments, or the desire for alternative/compressed work hours to pursue personal interests outside of work.
These lead to a number of opportunities and benefits for employers: reduced employee turnover, attraction as well as retention of knowledge and experience, resulting in cost savings, improved productivity and new ideas and innovation.
How business can leverage the Flexible Working Bill
The Bill also opens up more opportunities for organisations to leverage blended teams. Freelancers have thrived working in a flexible way, yet the challenge has often been how more traditional, less flexible team frameworks have seamlessly integrated them. Those organisations that we have supported with a blended team, have embraced flexible working and thus have been able to harness diverse resourcing models. This strategic approach gives them an advantage and allows them to be agile and responsive to opportunities.
The essence of this bill is encapsulated in the Day 1 conversation around flexible work. At jelli, our philosophy has always centred on open, transparent dialogues before day one with candidates, contractors, freelancers, and employers. This ensures that the considerations of flexible work options are discussed right from the outset. Transparency and open dialogue upfront translates into candidates who will more than likely go on to thrive and stay longer in an organisation.
Challenges of the Flexible Working Bill
While the Flexible Working Bill brings a large number of benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Managing teams with disparate work patterns can prove challenging. Our experience with clients adopting flexible working and implementing approaches such as designating specific days for team-wide availability and leveraging technology and tools for online collaboration mitigates these complexities.
HR, too, faces challenges such as capacity to process requests. Is the team equipped to manage an increase in requests? If not, might this trigger unforeseen costs or delays in meeting the timeline for review. There is also the issue of how you ensure there is equity across the organisation, functions, levels and individuals in considering requests and deploying changes.
The Flexible Working Bill is a big stride forward, however, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution for organisations or individuals. Yet, those organisations who embrace it and even go one step beyond, can harness the opportunities it brings whilst planning for any potential challenges.