Flexible work practices now ‘a given’

by Iain Hopkins21 Feb 2013

A new report has found that just one quarter of employers do not offer any flexible work arrangements for their employees – in 2013, it seems flexible work practices have moved from a ‘nice to have’ concept, to arrangements which are simply part of the furniture in modern workplaces.

Yet have all sectors cottoned on to the expectations of workers?

According to Andrew Cross, managing director at recruitment firm Ambition, in the technology sector some 50% of workplaces don’t offer employee benefits such as flexible hours – and it comes at a price. He warns that employers who still hesitate to move with the times risk an increased staff turnover and less productivity. “In a competitive market, getting employee benefits right and having a loyal team of experts on staff could be the difference between an organisation’s success and failure,” Cross commented.

While permitting more flexibility comes with a certain degree of risk for organisations and involves making changes to existing HR policies, there is no longer an alternative.

Recent research by RedBalloon and AltusQ narrowed down what employers should be concentrating their engagement efforts on, and what they should be moving away from.

According to the 2012 report, the core ingredients for engagement success are flexible working arrangements, recognition programs, non-cash rewards/incentives, training and development programs, paid parental leave and time off for study.

“These are the basics required to deliver on expectations and start to engage a workforce. They are the base of the pyramid, so if you don’t get them right, the whole structure will topple,” James Wright, RedBalloon’s corporate engagement specialist said.

Share your Employee Engagement Reality

Now in its third year, the RedBalloon and AltusQ Employee Engagement Capability Survey is open for submissions. The survey and resulting report seek to better understand and support organisations committed to expanding and transforming employee engagement.

This unique research study looks at 20 core competencies that contribute to delivering high levels of employee engagement, and identifies the specific barriers, knowledge and skills gaps in a business to direct the required actions to improve a workplace’s engagement reality.

Have your say before 28 February 2013 and go into the draw to win a $300 RedBalloon gift voucher and receive a free electronic copy of the report when it is released in April.


  • by Karen Thomas 22/02/2013 9:46:40 AM

    Some of these things are still 'nice to have' but not always easy to implement. While our company allows flexible working hours, we do not have the options of recognition programs, cash/reward incentives or training programs due to finances. Our parent company is based in Spain who are going through a financial crisis and until our company here gets more projects, we cannot offer these other options. I have been trying to get a training budget off the ground for some time now without much success (but I keep trying). I would love to implement incentives etc and have some ideas on what I would like to do however it is not on the cards at the moment. The nice to haves are also often not an option for smaller companies (like ours). Flexible work hours work reasonably well as long as the office is manned between 8.30am to 5pm, though the office is often manned later due to calls to Spain. We try to implement work/life balance as staff have personal appointments, family requirements, travel etc which allows staff to work best around their commitments.

  • by ej 22/02/2013 11:55:01 AM

    I agree whole heartedly that flexibility is a key to engagement.

    I think larger companies are going to struggle with this; currently even in interviews unless you are in the top tier of the workforce flexible arrangements are rarely on offer.

    Younger employees especially, have seen their parents burnout and are going to choose smaller companies who offer a better lifestyle balance.

  • by Judy Higgins 26/02/2013 3:39:21 PM

    Sometimes it is not possible to offer flexibility; depending on the job. Try offering police, paramedics, fire brigade offices etc flexibility, it just doesn't work. Doesn't work necessarily well in 1-2 person offices, also doesn't work in areas where there are time constraints e.g. the media jobs. I manage a small team of people and do provide as much flexibility as I can, but sometimes this is at a cost to the company. Sometimes you get it back and sometimes it is taken for granted. It needs to be negotiated on an individual basis.

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