Timewise flexible working project produces positive results

Innovative pilot scheme demonstrates how flexible working can be financially beneficial for employers and what the next steps are.

day one flexible working law


Flexible working shows clear long-term financial benefits to the frontline job sector, according to a new research project conducted by Timewise.

Timewise recently implemented flexi-time pilots in construction, retail, adult domiciliary care, education and health to demonstrate the potential of flexible working arrangements and how employers would get a return on investment (ROI).

“Because of the lack of robust longitudinal evidence to link flexible working with direct financial benefits to business, we still face a challenge when it comes to driving change at scale,” said Timewise founder and development director, Emma Stewart. “We knew we needed stronger evidence of the financial business case for flexible working to overcome scepticism at organisational and national policy level. We needed to counter the argument that employee interests come at the expense of organisational priorities.”

The results are stark. In construction, a site with 200 construction staff would require a reduction of just one sick day per person per year (over three years) for the pilot to break even, or a reduction in staff turnover of 11% per year over the same period (that’s 7.5 fewer leavers per year).

In teaching, Multi-Academy Trusts with 100 teaching staff would require an average of one fewer sick day per teaching staff member per year in order for the programme to break even over three years. Similarly, that means one fewer leaver per year over three years.

Currently, flexible working is very low in the construction industry – just three per cent of all employees have this arrangement.

But 60% of construction employees who reported a lot of control over their working hours were completely satisfied with their jobs, compared with one fifth of those who had none.

The report, known as Fair Flexible Futures #3 and worked on in conjunction with the Institute for Employment Studies, lays out the key markers for showing employers why flexible working could and should be introduced on a grand scale. It also adds that it needs to be closely watched to ensure there is no imbalances when it comes to accessibility.

The conclusions state that employers need to focus on creating a business case for flexible working; trial it in small teams before rolling it out; think about different modes of flexible working for different kinds of employees and make sure the boards of companies are talking about these topics during meetings.

It adds that for it to work efficiently and long-term, it needs to be part of an over-arching culture change at a company and there needs to be straightforward measurements for tracking progress.

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