advo’s operations manager, Lucy Irvine, talks about why she is so passionate about the Working Forward initiative that supports pregnant women and new parents at work.
“Nowadays, few women can afford to choose having a family over a career and more to the point, few want to. In my own experience, balancing family life with work, although sometimes tough, is also incredibly rewarding; however this can only work if an employer realises the importance of being flexible to the individual’s needs.
With a large percentage of our [advo’s] workforce being talented women in their 20’s and 30’s, we would be foolish not to address how best to manage the situation and future proof the needs of the business. The Working Forward campaign has given us the perfect opportunity to properly look at how we can handle this situation.
A lot of employers have an archaic attitude to flexible working and the term is often treated by many decision makers as a dirty word, leading employees to fear even making a flexible working request. In most cases flexible working means happier staff, lower costs and greater productivity. Many businesses are quick to dismiss any requests on the basis that it will ‘open up a can of worms’ the minute more than one person raises the question.
Looking at the individual’s role and their productivity when sat at their desk versus the alternative is absolutely key in why flexible working can be as beneficial for the business as it can be for the employee. Of course, there are some roles where it isn’t always achievable, but in the instances where it is, why should a business miss out on working hours from a valuable member of staff because they have to do the school run when they’re willing and able to do that work once they’ve put the kids to bed?
In the majority of cases, the largest expense for any business is people and property. Flexible working can lead to reduced rental costs, which when utilised effectively, can save hundreds of thousands of pounds to a larger employer.
As well as attracting and retaining talent, one of the greatest business cases for flexible working is improved productivity. A report found that three in five people who work flexibly put in more hours as a result of being allowed to do so. 72% of businesses also reported increased productivity as a direct result of flexible working.
It’s time that businesses give this matter (and the individuals concerned) the time it deserves as currently, the people who are missing out the most are the employers themselves.
We certainly can’t afford to repeatedly recruit and train new members of staff who ‘fit the ideal mould’ when compromising on an alternative arrangement may in fact be of greater benefit to all involved.