The rationale for introducing flexible working

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In the past 25 to 50 years there has been a tremendous advancement in technology making the whole world a huge market place. Manufacturing based economies have evolved into service oriented, customer centric economies. Established concepts governing the Scientific, Social, Political and Economic studies are experiencing a change at both macro and micro level. The technological hyperactivity, besides shrinking the geographical boundaries has given rise to various new concepts. Work-life balance is a one such modern concept which pertains to prioritising between "work" (career and ambition) on one hand and "life" (pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development) on the other.

This report attempts to explore the term "Flexible Working" which stems from the work-life balance concept. As suggested by CIPD (2010) "The term flexible working relates to an organisation's working arrangements in terms of working time, working location and the pattern of working". As suggested by the Office of National Statistics (2004) the standard model of working - Monday to Friday, 9 - 5 is no more a standard. The employees, the employers, policy makers and the general public are all recognising the need for balance between work and quality of life in conjunction with a business need for a flexible work force.

DISCUSSION OF ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES

According to CIPD (2005) the figure below demonstrates that organisations are certainly not driven by legislative requirements alone. HR professionals, who were the subjects of the survey, reported, employee retention as a powerful motivators for using flexible working

5.1 With flexible work schedules, employers experience these benefits:

Increased employee morale, engagement, and commitment to the organization.

Armstrong (2006) cited [Gilmer 1961] suggests that "morale is a feeling of being accepted by and belonging to a group of employees through adherence to common goals". Flexible workers do feel part of the organisation which helps them to be committed.

Reduced absenteeism and tardiness. According to the CIPD (2009) "the average level of employee absence has fallen to 7.4 days per employee per year from 8.0 days per employee per year in the previous year" continuing a downward trend. This obviously has links with increased flexible options available to employees.

Reduced turnover of valued staff. CIPD 2010 Resourcing and talent planning survey reported the overall employee turnover rate for the UK to be 13.5%. Moderate levels of staff turnover can also help to reduce staff costs. More flexible work schedules result in retention of productive employees.

Extended hours of operation for departments such as customer service. ABC bank strives to be the best bank and is customer centric. To provide excellent customer service it is flexible to its employees in its working hours which result in productivity.

Develops image as an employer of choice with family friendly flexible work schedules.

5.2 Disadvantages of flexible working

Costs involved in administering the scheme

If the premises are open longer, there may be increased costs for lighting and heating

Employees will not be in work at certain times and therefore it may not be suitable for organisations where continuous cover is necessary.

Take a serious look at where they stand in terms of the appropriateness of their current working time arrangements.

Compare that to what can be achieved through combining newer, more effective practices backed up by clear and agreed rules of engagement combined with web technology specially designed for the environment.

Appreciate how research confirms that absences, overtime and staff turnover will all reduce through flexible working

ANALYSIS OF THE THREE TYPES OF FLEXIBLE WORKING

CIPD (2010) explored the extent to which employers are making use of flexible working practices. These included

FLEXIBLE TIME:

Part-time working: work is generally considered part-time when employers are contracted to work anything less than full-time hours.

Term-time working: a worker remains on a permanent contract but can take paid/unpaid leave during school holidays.

Job-sharing: a form of part-time working where two (or occasionally more) people share the responsibility for a job between them.

Flexitime: allows employees to choose, within certain set limits, when to begin and end work.

Compressed hours: compressed working weeks (or fortnights) don't necessarily involve a reduction in total hours or any extension in individual choice over which hours are worked. The central feature is reallocation of work into fewer and longer blocks during the week.

Annual hours: the period within which full-time employees must work is defined over a whole year.

FLEXIBLE LOCATION:

Working from home on a regular basis: workers regularly spend time working from home.

Mobile working/teleworking: this permits employees to work all or part of their working week at a location remote from the employer's workplace.

FLEXIBLE CONTRACT:

Outsourcing

Agency workers

Temporary contracts.

According to CIPD (2005) the figure below demonstrates organisations' currnet practice regarding flexible working

The three types of flexible working ABC bank can look to introduce and benefit from are

1) Working from home: The employment of people working from home is another trend which has aroused interest of researchers. According to government statistics there are around 3 million people who work from home. This represents 8% of the total UK workforce. S. Taylor (national statistics 2006) (people resourcing 4 edition).

ABC Bank as being customer centric can provide excellent customer service by extending working from home option to employees. The benefits are savings in costs.

2) Annual hours: Shifting from the traditional 'hours worked per week' contracts to annualised hours contracts can deliver tangible results. Each year all employees are required to work a set number of hours. The introduction of Annualised Hours within an organisation can lead to an increase in the employees' skill-set and often leads to improved morale of both management and the workforce.

Some real benefits enjoyed by banks which have moved to an annualised contracts system include:

Increased employee commitment

Staff more willing to be flexible

A cohesive team environment developed

Payroll administration and over-time costs drastically reduced

Manufacturing efficiency rose by 33%

Working Time Solutions provide both the expert advice and accompanying specialist software applications to help organisations introduce annual hours contracts and systems for their workforce.(working time solutions 2008)

3) Mobile working/teleworking: This permits employees to work all or part of their working week at a location remote from the employer's workplace. In simple terms, mobile working helps employees to get away from their desks.

Mobile working means that sales people or staff working at client sites can be in closer contact with the customers. This results in instant query handling and a more personalised response giving customers the most up-to-date information. Technological advancements can step in here to keep the systems updated even remotely. Likewise, with the additional information available to them, they can offer a more complete service. (www.ehampshire.org/downlaod/mobileworking.pdf)

SUMMARY OF LEGAL RIGHTS

In 2003 the UK Government introduced a legislation that gave parents of children under 6, or the parents of disabled children under 18, the right in law to request a flexible working arrangement from their employer. The Office of National Statistics conducted a survey in 2005 which showed that 71% of female workers and 60% of male workers were aware of the rights created under the 2003 legislation. The report further suggests that between 2003 and 2005 more than 14% of all workers had requested a change to flexible working. The law has extend the right to request flexible working to carers of adults from 6 April 2007 and

CONCLUSION

ABC is a customer centric business. Therefore developing an army of skilled customer service personnel is of greatest importance. ABC is in a position to adopt the flexible working strategies of larger organisations, improvements can be made with limited resources.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ensure a degree of operational flexibility in the bank system.

There should be internal autonomy for the bank's in their internal decision making process.

Greater degree of professionalism in banking operation is highly recommended in the organisation structure of banking system.

FUTURE

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