By Rebecca Harper

For business owners, there’s nothing more stressful than making hiring decisions. Finding the right people to help push your business in the right direction is hard. They have to share your vision, match your work ethic, and more importantly, they have to get along with everyone else on your team. When people have settled into a new role, this is when the trouble can start. Many small businesses report giving their employees and inch while they take a mile. Flexible working requires a lot of self-discipline, and not everyone is suited to this type of work.

This is precisely the reason businesses fear flexible working. It’s difficult to keep track of what everyone is doing when they are all working to their own schedules. It can also breed resentment within the team when one individual gets to work from home while everyone else is trudging into the office. So why exactly am I pushing for more businesses to adopt flexible working practices when it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen?

Improve Employee Retention

Gone are the days when individuals leave university, get a job, and then climb the company rungs until it’s time to collect their retirement watch. People job hop more than ever, and they are only going to stay with you if you continue to meet their needs. Employee retention can be anything from offering training and development to adapting to the employees changing lifestyle. Someone fresh from university might not be interested in flexible working, but once they start thinking about starting a family, their needs can quickly change. By adapting and supporting your employees, you will be able to improve staff retention. And it isn’t only about parents juggling family responsibilities, studies have shown that the 9-5 lifestyle isn’t productive for anyone.

Healthy and Happy Workers Are More Productive

There’s nothing worse for a small than when one person comes into work with the sniffles. Before long, everyone has it, the office is miserable and productivity plummets. People will often say they are well enough to work, but if you want them to keep their contagions out of the workplace they need to have the opportunity to work from home at short notice. Child sickness and family emergencies are another reason that workers may benefit from being able to work from home. This isn’t to say that employees should be discouraged from taking sick days when they need them, but it can help to keep everyone healthy and reduce the number of unnecessary sick days.

The Benefits Far Outweigh the Costs

It has been predicted that 2017 will mark a tipping point for flexible work, with more companies advertising flexible working benefits than not. It’s a very easy benefit to implement, and in the UK every company is able to offer their own version and restrictions. However, the only thing that companies in the UK can’t do is opt out. Companies that fail to manage these requests in the correct way can face lengthy legal battles, not to mention the bad blood (and potential bad press) that can arise as a result.

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