The benefits to both employer and employee when it comes to flexible working arrangements have been duly noted. Individuals are handed back a set of keys to their lives (especially pertinent for working parents) as they can manage their working hours around demanding personal lives, while employers are rewarded with a thoroughly motivated, committed and empowered bunch of workers only too willing to ‘go the extra mile’ at the drop of a hat. Or so the theory goes.

Recently the CIPD has popped its head above the industry parapet to urge government to open up flexible working to as many employees as possible, for the good of overall business success. There is a bigger picture here though, because, while it is true that the vast majority of employees would welcome the opportunity to work flexibly, there is a need to hear that confirmation before steaming ahead at full speed.

Having working with and for so many different companies and organisations, there is no doubt that each and every one is set up differently. And that makes perfect sense when you consider that they are all made up of people, and people come in all different shapes and sizes – importantly, they all behave in diverse ways and have needs that are rarely identical,

Yes, the benefits of a flexible working regime are clear, but what is less clear is how successful it can be implemented as a blanket ruling, and how well it will be received by each and every employee. Situations will undoubtedly arise where one employee’s need to be flexible will clash with another’s, so how will this be dealt with?

Arguably it could cause line manager headaches up and down the country. For us, the only way to get a true reflection of what employees are thinking, and how they truly believe that a flexible working scheme would operate, is via 360 degree appraisal feedback – which offers total privacy for respondents, and can be designed to target specific responses around flexible working practices. Employees working together, one without dependents, one with, could well disagree on the practicality on flexible work – with one worrying about the potential of it leading to an unfair distribution of workloads. Companies can, and are, combating this issue by making good use of the 360 tool and not waiting for government to dictate how they should manage their people, but instead, taking it up with the people themselves.

Elva Ainsworth
Managing Director – Talent Innovations
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