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Significant amount of the recent HRM literature (Human Resource Management) concerns the issue of flexibility in the organisation either from the employees or employers perspective. This is mainly de to the socio-economic changes happening in the last decade driving the organisations towards better employment systems.
Trau(199) highlights different reason for the increase as organisations are seeking flexibility to make themselves adaptable to the competitive global markets where as the employees are favouring flexible terms for a greater security of employment and work-life satisfaction.
The traditional organisational firms are long gone due to the globalisation of markets, technological changes and increase in competitors. The successful today's organisation needs to be able to cope itself with the hyper competitive environment and response accordingly. These patterns have led to the increase in employee opportunities and perseverance.
Based on the above attention has developed model for the flexible firm.
The growing interest in using flexible work practices in the organisations is mutual. This may be due to the laws(UK) and productivity measures by the organisation. But the increase in the range of practices employed can be noticed(kersey et al;2005)
Typically flexible working options in the work place can be said "as an employee and employer making changes to when, where and how a person works to meet individual and business needs at their best.
While the concept stays put, it is the type of arrangement that makes the difference.
Workplace flexibility (2010) states the above stated arrangement as " any one of a spectrum of work structures that alters the time and place that work gets done on a regular basis.
Basically the flexible work options include flexi-time remote working, reduced/compressed hours work time etc. depending upon the employee/employers need and agreement.
[Revise form flexible-work [Terry o Brien] [PG10]
Types of Arrangements:-
Part Time, FlexiTime, Job share, WFH, Time offin lieu, Tele work.
The type of practices divided according to when where and how can be seen below.
When people work:-
Flexi Time:- it is the most popular arrangement where In the number of hours worked per week remains same but it just alters the start and finish times of work depending upon the need [Elbingtonet, al 1975]
Part Time Work:- Part time work in general refers to the reduction in the number of working hours as opposed to the standard weekly hours.
Variable year employment: - depending on the requirement of the job, variance year employment requires the employee to work more hours during busy perio and vice versa.
Part Year Employment:- which is also referred to as purchased leave. It allows the employee to make longer periods of leave (4 weeks - 8 weeks)
Leave:- Eg Parental Leave, Study Leave, Career Breaks etc. But without pay.
Olmsted & smith (1994) defines leave as as authorized period of time away from work without loss of benefits.
Where employees work:-
Work from home:- This method of working has become very popular now a days due to the advancements in technology. Eg: IT industry. It can be done either part time or full time or occasionally as agreed by the employee-employer duo.
Remote working:- this refers to the people working remotely at the client work place occasionally or all their working hours.
How employees work:
Job share:- Job sharing is when two people share one full time job and benefits according to the agreements.
Phased retirement allows the patrons to reduce their full time work commitment gradually over the years (5 days to 3 days/week) before moving to retirement.
Annualised hours:- these are set numbers of hours per year the employee agrees to work for the organisational instead of the standard number of hours per week.
These flexice work arrangements are not new but had started part 20 year or so. These has partly emerged due to technology; but recent popularity accompanied regarding these practices can be accredited to the government policies and laws which are trying to encourage WLB; by supporting family friendly policies.
Lewis(1997) states 5 main reasons for the introduction of these arrangement.
Meet family friendly goals.
Meet labour demand
Avoid absenteeism retention etc.
These arrangements are not limited to any specific industry age or workers. Whatever the age, gender or career, flexible working applies to everyone depending on the employer's business objectives and employee needs. These arrangements are for the benefit of both the employee and business and are neither temporary nor fixed. They may remain static or change, according to the interests of both of the parties for better organisational performance.
The laws supporting flexible working in the UK can be found later in the paper.
Forces driving flexibility:
Flexibility in the organisations is driven by many contributing internal and external components since it has got the popularity of linkage with good people management practices and better performance objectives. Flexible working has been achieving a greater pace in its development and wider usage in small businesses and MNC's. Although one has to be conscious that like any other process of change in the organisations, flexible working holds both its pros and cons which will be discussed later in the paper. The society in which we live has seen many radical changes in the last 2-3 decades and it certainly has its impact on the life style of people and the organisations they work (in context of technological and demographic factors). The demographical changes have a heavy influence on the size and composition of the work force the labour market now-a-days consist of an equal composition of male to female work force as opposed to earlier traditional workforce. The issue of women in the work force have become more pertinent due to the potential labour shortages in some sectors even with all the advancements in the modern society women always tend to be responsible for their family child care .Rachid M Zeftane points out that the absence of flexible work option might become a barrier to work. The increasing numbers of women in the workforce is one of the top factors driving flexibility in organisations.
Women now a day are not restricted to secretarial or nursing jobs but they are equally ranked along with their counterparts such as politician's engineers, lawyers or other management roles. Surprisingly they are even making their presence in blue collar jobs such as Bus drivers, Mail carriers and Police. Karoly and panis (2004) points out that women are becoming permanent members of the workforce at all levels. Due to this pressures and expectations are mounting up requiring them to work more hours for them flexibility at work has been heralded a favourite strategy helping the men and women a better opportunity for child care. Irene Hardill and Dan Wheatly (2009) puts that these dual career households are the most egalitarian in nature. The number of them has been on the rise totalling to almost 2.23 million the UK by 2001 as compared to 1.2 million in 1984-91 (Irene Hardill, Anne Green & Anna Duddleston(1997)
Flexible working arrangements are not only meant for women. Another important factor pushing flexibility in the workplace is the role of fathers in child care. Men are seeking family friendly policies for a better balance and professional and family life and are looking forward to play a important role in caring for their children. Equalities and human rights commission states that almost half of fathers have some kind of flexible work option available although 30% are actually using them. Figures reveal that 91% of dads now take time off around their child birth and very much value their arrangement with the organisation.
Due to the advancements in medicine there has been a rise in ageing population. This has also led to the increase in the number of carers [parents/relatives etc]. Similar to the child care organisation have the need to extend certain kind of FWA to carers. The statistics can be seen along with the child carers in the graphs. Another important factor acting as a driver of flexible working is "up skilling the workforce". The employees realised the importance to up skill themselves in order to compete with the hyper active markets. So educational requirements has impacted the organisations need to provide options for their employees.Business school graduates are opting for a workstyle to go with their life style "[The economist, 2006] driving the organisations to employ FWA's to retain the best.
Influence of Legislation:
The Employment Act (2002), work and families act  provides the right to request flexible working to 3.6 million parents, 2.05 million carers in the UK(BERR,2010).
According to the working time regulations Act [WTR] introduced in 1998 in the UK, it imposes a limit on weekly working hours to 48 hrs/week along with the leave entitlements granted under the European working time directive (EWTD).
Achieving balance between work and family for dual career couples is critical but young employees this generation are working to live rather than living to work according to the journalism news letter (Williamson, 2006).
The extension to the flexible work regulations (2003) has now come into force in 2009 which provided the right to request flexible working for almost a third of the UK work force.
Fig 1 [Awareness]
Equality legislation also affects the flexible working policy of an organisation in respect to gender, age and disability.
The discrimination act (1975) potentially avoids then direct and indirect inequalities in relation to gender & martial status affecting the working-time policy.
The disability discrimination act DDA (1995) ensures that the disabled person in not at disadvance by making an employer obligation to provide reasonable adjustments to the work place & work hours. (Foster, 2007)
For older workers the UK legislation requires the employers to consider the employees requests beyond the retirement age to increase their participation in the labour force [OWP, 2006; Lissenburgh & Smeaton 2003]
Despite benefits reaped by the employer to introduce FWA in the organisations, several laws imposed by the government to support work life balance has led to them being an essential part of the organisation. Another important factor driving flexibility in today's competitive world is Talent Management. The highly volatile economic environment has significantly impacted the recruitment process posing its dependability on the highly motivated and committed staff. Attracting and retaining "Potential Individuals" has been identified as a strategic imperative (Lutbish and Smith 2007) in all the sectors as a result of the changing demographics of the working population, skill shortages and pursuit of WLB. (Byman and Summers, 2004). Organisations have been successfully using flexible work polices as a talent attraction and retention tool. Scandura and Lankau (1997) stated that employees are seen to have shown a greater deal of commitment and obtain job-satisfaction in the flexible organisations. Employers in the western countries are focussed on good will as well as productivity. Introduction of family friendly policies in their work force can be seen as a form of positive branding for the organisation, which further helps in attracting and retaining the talent as well as reputation in the market.
One more factor a concerning the employees to favour flexible Work Arrangement is the reduction in absenteeism and turnover rates which are optimising productivity levels by reducing training and new recruitment costs.
In addition to the above mentioned factors, globalisation also plays an important role in favouring flexible working in terms of start and ending work hours with reference to different time zones. There is a further push to flexible working in some cases (or countries) as result of the global economy raising the standards of business.
Flexible working and WLB:
What is WLB? As the name suggests, work life balance in its broadest sense is defined as a satisfactory level of involvement or fit between multiple roles in a person's life (Hudson, 2005)
WLB for any individual is having the 'right' combination of participation in paid work and other aspects of their lives. This combination will not always be constant. It changes according to the changing responsibilities and commitments in their work and family lives. WLB policies helps the employees achieve a balance between work and family commitments. Now a days the WLB policies and practices are becoming increasingly important to both the employer and the employee. Due to its beneficial effects on the employee in terms of commitment, job satisfaction and low levels of stress in turn is having a positive effect on the employer. Even the legislation has been promoting WLB policies and its uptake in the organisations. This is based on the evidence of a "Stronger Business Case" by introducing FWA aiding in a greater WLB and their contribution to effective recruitment & retention of staff, employee satisfaction and productivity. A survey funded by Joseph RownTree foundation by the researched at university of Cambridge (Dex and Smith, 2002) concluded that "There are positive effects on employee commitment from adopting family friendly policies and it even stated that nine out of ten firms employed with WLB policies found them cost-effective".
Due to the changes in demography and the increase in dual career households, achieving a balance in becoming much more difficult especially with children (Bulger et;al 2007). Despite the government campaigns (work-life balance campaign) and the working regulations (2007) in place from the last decade, achieving a desired balance is becoming tough in the house-hold,work place interface. Hence it is important for the employer to support WLB by adopting family friendly strategies and practices beneficial to the employees. Flexible working practices make up a majority of work-life balances policies. They include flexi-time, job share, work from home, term time hours, part time working employee support services such as crèche facilities, counselling etc. Authors such as Mulvaney et al (2006) stated that the levels of conflict between work and family will be moderated as a result of the support from the employers. These components work in various ways and positively affect job satisfaction and organisational commitment ultimately leading to employee retention and low levels of absenteeism thus supporting "the business case" (Mulvaney, et al (2006), Cleveland et al, (2007) Namasirayan and Zaho (2007). Decisions by either men/women to leave an organisation are heavily influenced by their concerns to work-life balance. Research has steadily shown that organisations supporting the employee's family commitments reap benefits in terms of employee commitment and lower turnover rates. Allen 2001, Ayee, Luk and Stone (1988) points that employees who has been provided support from the management have fewer intentions of leaving the organisation and report greater satisfaction at work. A supportive work-family culture even helps the female employees to return to work more quickly after child's birth (Lyness et al 1999).
Flexible working: Impact on recruitment and retention of the employees.
Attracting motivating and retaining talented workforce (or knowledge worker- a term coined by Drunker 1989) is becoming important in the tight labour market. This is mainly due to the global convergence of technology and hyper-competition among the organisations. Strategies have been emerging accordingly to attract and retain the skilled workers to attain competitive advantage. Possessing these people management abilities in the organisation helps to cope up with the change in and around and stand out from the crowd making its steps towards organisational performance. Releasing the significance, there is an emergence of bundles of literature and research evidence that shows specific HR strategies such as FWA's to the employee are helping attract, motivate and retain them. (Boron and Hannan, 2002, Heurtt & associates, 2001)
Recruitment as stated by sims(2002) is the process of finding and attracting individuals to fill the actual or anticipated job vacancies. Recruitment is another potential area which is impacted by the changing demographics of the work force. Organisations has the need to provide with what the employees need for broadening the labour pool and attract qualified and skilful workers who cannot work the traditional work schedule. There is a growing evidence that the skill shortages are mounting up every year and there is no measure to subside it in the foreseeable future. In the "war for talent" organisation need to be able to respond according to the cultural trends and provide the employees with flexible working practices they need to create a balance between work and family commitments. Responding to the demographic trends, there is even a need to engage and motivate mature age working which helps in the building of a diverse work force. Lewis(1997) believes that a culture shift is needed so that the diverse and different patterns of work are equally valued and that too without the gender difference. Now a day the notion of working to live rather than living to work bureaucratically is gaining popularity. (Not the case always). Realising the importance of family friendly work-culture, legislation and benefits of flexible working strongly becoming a business case, the employees are changing their work environments supporting the employee family & professional commitments (Total salary increase budget 2001/2002 conducted by world at work)
Subsequently the policies aiding in the WLB of the employees are acting as recruiting initiatives. Flexible work schedules have been proved to be the chosen and most popular amongst the line managers. Surveys have stated that the employers who are considerate of the employees will be able to develop a sense of commitment in the employee minds boosting their motivational levels. Similar to the recruitment, flexible working options have has its impact on the turnover rate of the employees. The charted institute of personnel and development (2000) cites benefits of FWA in improved recruitment, retention, productivity, motivation and employee commitment Other than the private surveys and individual surveys conducted by the organisational there is no signification research relating flexible working policies to the retention of the employee.
Employee retention can be defined as the effort by an employer to retain the desirable workers in order to meet its desired business objectives (Franks et al 2004). It is beneficial to both the employer and the employees. In the perspective of the employee the balance between work and family puts him at a level of ease and increase his job satisfaction. Due to the advancements in technology individuals are able to work from any location at varied periods of time. Organisations are effectively at benefit due to the varied time zones due to the international markets and employees ready to work other than the core hours. (Dibble, 1999). From the employers perspective, it affects the firm's reputation if the turnover rate is high and it will have a significant effect on the organisational overall purpose.(Even has a negative impact on recruitment). This is due to the soaring costs of the recruitment which include advertising, interviewing costs training costs as well as the use of physical resources in the recruitment process. Results from a survey in Australia (joydeepttor, 1997) shows that the visible cost of turnover to the organisation (recruitment, hiring, orientation and training) is between 50 and 150 percent of a person's annual salary. But the author predicts that the number may be quite high as the factors such as expertise loss & productivity, time are not taken into account.
"one size fits all" approach no longer works. Employers other than facing constant turn over and unhappy employees should accommodate the needs of the people. (Gregory P Smith) states that " an employee who has to choose between work and family may very well quit". In contrast employers can be effective in providing a work life a balance to its work force which improves the morale and produces loyal employees. Many firms are focussing on improving their HR strategies to flexible working especially for women to allow them to come back to work after their maternity leave. This is helping the organisation restore the employee's talent to the firm. Devising a strategic pattern of work around the life style of employees gives them a feeling of empowerment and trust to manage their own work load in hours suitable to them.There are many multinational organisations that are successful in their own field that realise the importance of WLB to the employee and as well as the organisation and adopted multiple strategies according to their needs. Example: Dell UK has adopted and devised a strategy for implementing flexible working helping to achieve a diverse work force. (www.dell.co.uk)
NBS the firm upon which the research is upon has realised the importance of family friendly policies more than two decades ago and promoted tele- working for selling their mortgages and providing customer care providing support to full time home workers and in turn it has become an employer of choice. 93% of the female workforce and returning back to work helping in the low levels of turnover and productivity.
Barriers for the introduction of flexible working in organisations
Workplace capacity-Unlike the MNC's, SME's particularly lack the capacity to implement FWA to their employee. (Lang et al,2000) specifies that flexible working policies in smaller business are certainly at a disadvantage. This can be justified by the statement by MC Donald et al (2005) who notes that the development of family friendly policies were often linked to suiting their business needs rather than the employees. Organisational culture definitely plays an important role in the development of flexible working policies which is lacking in SME's. However organisational culture is not limited to SME's but larger organisations also need to improve their work culture which supports the flexible work practices. HR personnel should develop strategies according to the needs of the employee and the organisation. The perception of achieving success working long hours should be shifted on the basis performance. Communication is an aspect to be worked upon when adopting FWA as it plays an important role in the successful implementation.
Training programmes for the manager should be conducted to bridge the implementation gap between policy and practice. An effective communication strategy helps the Isolated workers to be under the constant support of team members and colleagues. Awareness should be created to all the employees at all the levels about the flexible working policies and practices. In many organisations the type of job/work acts as barrier for flexible working. Some jobs acts as a barrier for flexible working as they require your physical presence at the organisation E.g.customer services, IT support, maintenance and repairs etc. But that kind of work can take advantage of shift systems. Another barrier for flexible working is perception of males who think that flexible working puts them at a disadvantage when compared to women in the work force. Despite the gender it is a common belief in the work force that taking advantage of the flexible working policies makes them lose their position at work or affects their development ladder in the organisation. One more consideration is the single or childless employee attitudes that the FWA are unfair to them.
But successful implementation of the FWA in the organisations is needed that can benefit both the employer and employee. The spectacular Olympic 2012 in London had had its impact on flexible working as nearly 2 out of 10 organisations have trialled new forms of working. Recent survey taken out by the Institute of leadership of management stated that nearly half of the companies who tried flexible working practices during the Olympics are likely to continue them. Responding to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson's comments that "home working would be a skiver's paradise" - the employers said the employees were more productive and motivated.
According to the literature, flexibility in the work place does have its impact on the employee in terms of motivation, commitment and morale. Like an open environment, flexibility can be powerful tool in attracting and retaining good employees.
Research Design and Methodology:-
This chapter sets out by stating the research objectives of the study and will explore the nature of qualitative and quantitative Research method. By knowing them in detail helps out to create a link between the devised research questions and appropriate data collection methods. It describes then chosen research design and the techniques used for data collections the sample size and limitations of the study.
Research Questions and Objectives:
What is the impact of flexible work policies on the employee in terms of motivation and organisational commitment?
What is the impact of FWA in the Recruitment of employees at NBS?
What is the impact/role of FWA in the Retention of employees at NBS?
What is the effect of flexible working on the WLB of the employee?
Overview of the Research methods:
Qualitative Research Methods:-
Generally speaking, qualitative research provides information about the "human side" of an issue.
According to Bryman & Bell(2007), "It is a research strategy that usually emphasises work in word rather than numbers as in quantitative methods in the collection and analysis of data." Johnson and Christensen (2004) stated that the unique feature of qualitative research is that it helps the research's gain a deeper understanding of the participants than purely quantitative data. This method uses participant observation/ethnography, interviewing and focus groups as data collection methods. However due to the ambiguity in connecting theory and research it is facing some resistance. But there is no one best method everything is dependent on the research question and the resources.
Quantitative Research Methods:
Quantitative Research often entails as systematic and or scientific investigation employing mathematical models and theories. It enables the researcher to provide the data to the reader in numerical forms such as percentages and statistics. It has the benefits of easily tabulating large volumes of data. A quantitative method uses data collection methods such as questionnaires, structured/semi structured Interviews, focus groups. But it has its drawbacks of being totally objective in the interpretation of results as it falls to gain a deeper understanding of human experiences and a lesser control of the variables involved.
Mixed Methods Research:-
However one more method of Research called mixed methods research has been gaining Importance which claims to bridge the gaps between qualitative & quantitative forms. It involves collecting, analysing and mixing quantitative and qualitative approaches providing a better understanding of research problems than one method alone. (Creswell .J.W (1997). Despite Challenging in nature it provides strengths that offsets the weaknesses of the other two methods. But it all comes down to the suitability of the research questions and the research design chosen. Some times during the mixed methods research it is not possible to understand the benefits of the process until we analyse the data. Conducting mixed methods research helps to develop multiple perspectives. For my research it helps me to analyse both the employee and employers perspectives on flexible working and its impact on attraction and retention of employees in relation with WLB.
My research consists of both qualitative and quantitative data collected through a series of interviews with 4 HR Managers and 60 employees who have access to flexible working at NBS. I am aspiring to know the impact of the flexible working on the employees in relation and its effect on turnover rate of the employees at NBS.
The semi-structured interviews which hold an equal importance as the self-completion questionnaires helps to the gain knowledge of the employer's perspective in relation to the attraction retention of the employees and WLB.
Of all the research designs, Case-study approach has been found appropriate for my research as it entails as detailed and intensive analysis as single case and or organisation (Bryman and Bell, 2007) According to the research questions designed it allows the observations to be evaluated in context(Robson, 1995). According to Adams(2005) it helps dealing with the problems of reliability and validity and allows the triangulation of data. It is best suited for my research as NBS already boasts about the happy employees due to their flexi-working policies in their websites. Case study is deemed advantages as it enables the researcher a greater understanding of complex issues and helps by adding experience and strength to what is already known from previous research (soy, 2006).
Case-study has the unique ability to deal with different data such as interviews, questionnaires, focus groups and texts (Uin, 2003). However according to some critics, this approach has the limitations of reliability due to the small number of cases/participants and due to the deeper exposure to the case may result in biased findings (Soy, 2006). But due to its contemporary nature in terms of interpretation it still remains the appropriate and popular strategy with a small group of participants (Hagaan, 2009) within an organisation.
As stated above mixed Methods research has been followed as it helps my research to understand both the employees and employers views on flexibility through self -completion questionnaires and semi-structured interviews respectively. It helps to o be adopted as it focuses frame my research theoretically and philosophically as it employs multiple methods. Mixed methods research has to be adopted as it focuses on the emergence and importance of flexible work practices in the view of the employer by qualitative methods and link with evidence gathered from the employee through quantitative method. It helps to gain a complete picture of the flexible working at NBS. It doesn't deal with merely collecting both the forms of data but it uses the strengths of each answer the research questions. The data integration can be done by merging connecting or embedding in my research the data collected is integrated by merging it using "convergent parallel design".
Since both are equal importance convergent parallel design has been used where in qualitative and quantitative data collection has been conducted separately, yet concurrently but merged during the interpretation. This can be found in the analysis section of this paper.
To assist the survey with the employees at NBS, self-completion questionnaire has been designed by the researcher with an aim to focus directly on the research questions. All the necessary measures have been taken by the researcher for a clear understanding of the questions to employee to get a good response rate.
The questionnaires are sent out to the individuals via electronic mail, with a request letter stating the purpose of the research and return in date. This mode of approach deemed very helpful to the researcher in terms of monetary and time resources. It even permits the respondent to take sufficient amount of time and give genuine and thoughtful answers. This survey will act as the main instrument for data collection. The questions have been structured in the likert format using a 5 point response scale. Likert format has been chosen for its ease of use and administration.
In addition to the survey, semi structured Interviews have been conducted by the researcher to get the employees attitudes towards flexible working. The researcher acted as the interviewer and they took place at the office site during the work hours. A formal request has been made to obtain consent and due to the lack of time sample was restricted to '4' HR personnel. The formal request letter and the Interview Questions can be found in the appendix.
This research is based upon the responses of the employees and the company information gathered from its website. The researcher values the consent of the participants and respects confidentiality in every aspect of the process. This has been explained in the request to participate letters and the emails.
Limitations of the study
Similar to every research, there have been some limitations to this research. But the researcher has tried her best to obtain most accurate information possible.
Time and Budgetary Constraints Apart from the survey, it would have been really helpful if in-depth interviews have been conducted with at least 10 employees to gain a better understanding of the situation at NBS.
Reliability and Validity Due to the small number of participation in the interviews reliability was a bit questionable. As riley(2009) stated "Value of any research depends on the accuracy of data collected".
Legal and Ethical Constraints Acted as a barrier to collect unprecedented information with respect to the data protection act (1998). Many of the NBS personnel contacted has not given consent for interviews due to privacy reasons.
Size of the sample
For the survey the management has been requested by the researcher for a list of stakeholders availing flexible work arrangements at NBS. It has helped the researcher to evaluate and understand the effect of flexible working policies on the employee from a stake holder point of view. The request to participate was sent out to 60 out of 500 employees. Due to the limitations stated the sample size for the interviews is restricted to '4'.
Presentation, Interpretation and analysis of the findings
Findings of the Survey
The participants were carefully sampled on the basis of stake holder analysis according to the information obtained from the organisation. The demographic part of the survey stated that out of 54 responses obtained, 54% of the population were female and 44% male. Care is taken by the researcher to include a diverse and gender equalised sample to get a clear picture.
17% of the respondents fell into the category of between 18-25 years of age, where as 43% of the respondents in 26-35 years, 19% in 36-45 years, 22% of the sample population fell between the ages of 46-55. Ages 56 and over got 0% as none of the sample population fell under that age category partly due to them being in high level management and difficult to reach.
What is your age?
15% of the respondent were single where as 54.1% were married grossing out the highest percentage in this category where as 13% of the sample population are in a relation where as 19% of them stated that they were single parents.
26% of the respondents stated that they have one child whereas 25 of them has 2 children, 22% have children, 13% of them stated 4 and above and not surprisingly 15% of the population stated None.
How many children do you have?
Due to the careful stakeholder sampling based on the information obtained from the organisation, 93% of the respondents currently benefit from the flexible work policies in place at NBS where as 7% answered with NO. The researcher has not considered this as a major error, as 4 out of 54 responses will not affect the quality of the findings.
Do you currently benefit from the flexible work policies at NBS?
The responses obtained were par with much of the literature and other public & private surveys who stated that the main reason for people requesting flexible working is for child care. 70% of the respondents have stated that the reason for their request is child care where as 19% selected adult care, 30% of the respondents have chosen their reason being educating & up skilling. However 43% of the respondents were choosing flexible working in order to cope up with their stress levels, which ranks next to child care, and an significant problem employees have to look upon.
The percentages will add up to more than 100% as the employees were given the option of selecting more than one reason for their request to flexible working.
Reason for you requesting flexible working from your employer?
Ensuring about the most popular flexible work arrangement offered to the employees at NBS has bought out Flexi-Time by 65% of the respondents whereas compressed weeks or hours and work from home follows with a response rate 56% and 43% respectively. It is to be noted that since it deals mainly in the banking industry work from home is not granted to the employees on a permanent of more frequent basis due to security reasons (mentioned in the employees view points in the NBS website). But according to the data the researcher thinks that step is justified to some extent.
What are the most popular flexible work arrangements at NBS?
Based on the query the employee providing the favourable flexible work arrangement the individuals prefer that suits their work and their family life style 87% of the respondents agreed where as 11% of the respondents selected undecided or stayed neutral.
However the interesting factors is that none of the respondents disagreed with the statement which shows that NBS is considerate of its employee needs and understands the benefits of flexible working arrangements to the employee.
What is your preferred Flexi working arrangement
How strongly do you agree that your employer has been providing the FWA you prefer?
When the researcher tried to link the flexible work arrangements provided the employer has a link to improving the levels of job satisfaction, surprisingly majority of the respondents answered that it does have positive effects on the levels of job satisfactions. The numerical can be seen in the bar chart below.
Do you feel that the FWA has an influence on improving the levels of Job-satisfaction?
Since the objective of this research paper is dedicated to determine if the family friendly policies such as flexible working has an effect on recruitment and retention of potential employees, the researcher posed an enquiry into how strongly the employees prefer to join an organisation that offers flexible working. Not surprisingly but very strongly 93% of the employees have preferred to join an organisation with FWA when they are applying for a Job.
85% of the people have joined NBS due to its flexible working practices, say the respondents. The figures are visible in the charts below.
As a potential job-applicant, I prefer to join an organisation that offers flexible working.
One of the reasons, I had applied at NBS is because of its flexible working policies
80% of the respondents agreed to the statement that the employer who offers flexible work to its employees for the sake of employer benefits values its employees where are 15% of the people were uncertain about it and 2% of the responded did not agree to the statement.
An employer who offers flexible working values its employees
When asked if the flexible work practices offered by the organisation helps to recruit as diverse work force 82% of the respondents agreed where as 13% remained neutral.
Flexible working practices helps the organisation in the recruitment of a diverse work-force
Sort of mixed response is obtained about FWA improving the quality of life for employees and their families, but majority of the respondents (87%) agreed to the statement where as 10% disagreed or stayed neutral.
Flexible working improves the quality of life for employees and their families
About the effect of flexible working on the work life balance of the employees 86% of them agreed to the positive impact of the FWA in creating a WLB to the employee where as 4% of them disagreed to the statement.
Flexible working has an outstanding effect on the Work-life balance of the employees
83% od the respondents have agreed that the flexible working in an organisation attracts the job applicants who cannot work the traditional hours where as 2% did not agree as to it.
Flexible working attracts the Job applicants who cannot work the traditional hours
There will be a greater affect on the employee's perceptions and their usage of flexible working to the number of years the employees have been working in the organisation. This is why the research felt it's important to know the number of years, the employees have been working in the organisation. This helps to determine the impact of flexible work on the retention rate of the employees.
Out of the 54 participated employees, 23 were working at NBS 3-5 years and 22 employers were employed at NBS from the past 5-10 years and 1 participant is an employee for more than 10 years.
How long have you been an employee at NBS?
To determine the role of flexible working on the employee's intentions to stay at the current job, the employees have been answered if FWA makes them stay with their employer. 65% of the respondents agreed to the statement, and 26% of them strongly agreed that it makes them stay where as only one participant (2%) did not agree.
Flexible working makes me want to stay at my current job.
It is very important for the employer to know if the employees are leaving the organisation due to the imbalance between work and family commitments. It certainly will have a negative impact on the employer if the turnover rates are high as it increase the recruitment and training costs.
60% of the respondents stated that they left their previous job due to lack of flexible work arrangements. This number certainly shows the impact of flexible working practices on the employee's retention rates.
One of the potential reasons why I left my previous job is the lack of flexible work arrangements.
One of the popular flexible work arrangements offered and beneficial to the employees at NBS is flexi-time. Because of it the employees can accommodate their personal circumstances, such as leaving their child in school, health care at ease as they can choose their working hours. As result absenteeism can be reduced helping both the employer and the employee.
92% of respondents have agreed that Flexible working as significantly reduces their absences. (50 out of 54 respondents).
Flexible working has significantly reduced my absences as it allows for changes in personal circumstances to be accommodated.
87% of the respondent recorded that making use of the flexible working organisations has reduced the levels of stress at work, as they can get the work done with in their own schedules.
I experience low levels of stress, since I availed FWA because I can get my work done within my own work schedules.
Employees develop a sort of commitment towards the organisation when the employer takes steps towards the wellbeing of the individual which improves the morale of the employee and makes them want to stay in the organisation.
Here at NBS 93% of the respondents have valued its employer, since the employer himself is willing to help balance the work and other commitments of the employee resulting in the employee to stay at NBS for longer.
Knowing that my employer is willing to consider helping me to balance work and other commitments makes me want to stay in the company.
Sense of Power over their work helps the individuals develop a sense of own-ness and helps them to go the extra mile adding a better quality to the work performed. This makes a greater difference to the wellbeing of the company as well as the attitudes of the employee.
88% of the employees who has taken the survey have answered that they feel empowered because of the flexible working.
Flexible working gives me control over my work. I feel empowered because of it.
92% of the employees at NBS has agreed that the flexible working policies by their employer makes them feel trusted and valued and motivates them to perform better.
Availing flexible working makes me feel trusted and valued thus motivating me to perform better.
Attracting a retaining talented individuals have been identified as a key to better performance of the percentage of individuals who are choosing careers over family, it is almost the same rate at which individuals are choosing families over career. But the organisations that are helping the individuals balance them both are helping themselves in the current market by branding as "employer of choice".
85% of the employees at NBS agree that the presence of flexible work policies has made it an employer of choice which is highly desired by the potential individuals in the recruitment market.
Interviews with the HR personnel: Findings
Introducing the participants
Participant 1 is a female HR Manager that has been working at NBS for almost 5 and half years. She is currently taking advantage of flexi-time which enables to pick up her children from school in the evening.
Participant 2 is a male manager for the IT development team, who leads and manages 8 people in the team. The team leader has an experience of 4 years with the company and he is using remote working - work from home once a week according to formal contract with the organisation.
Participant 3 is a male IT engineer working from the past 2 years at NBS and is a part time carer for to his 9 week baby boy. He started making use of the flexi working arrangements only from the past 3 months to suit his family & work commitments.
Participant 4 is a part time female employee under the age of 30 working at NBS for the past three years. She is initially a full time worker, but is currently in pursuing her masters at a university in bath. She changed her contract to part-time hours which suits her studies.
Impact of flexible working on the employee as a whole at NBS
All the interviewees were focussed positive towards flexible working as it is helping them to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance.
In their own words
"I have got the sufficient amount of time to spend with my children. It allows me to balance between work and home - have dinner with them work after putting them to bed. It's a perfect harmony."
"It allows me to adjust the work hours around my family commitments one of the reasons I love my Job."
Similar to the 87% of the respondents the interviewees has also found being to work flexibility has a positive impact on their levels of job satisfaction.
They said "I think when I work in my suitable hours, I get a chance to take a step back and think about my work and focus on the actual problems and say "why is that code not working"?.
One more participant reveals that
"The pattern of the days in and days off gives me more time and relaxation to get other things done helps with my university work"
"I like to have my Friday off as my doctor is available and I can have my appointments"
"It really makes me feel committed to NBS as they understood and consider my educational needs and provide me days off during my exams". Says a participant
"This has obviously created a good work environment. The employees can accommodate their personal circumstances and work without taking the day off with flexi-time."
The participants have stated that for them as potential job applicants they definitely look out for flexibility in organisations.
"I love working in a flexible organisations. Employers who keep their resources (employees) a priority will be valued in turn by us in terms of commitment and morale."
"Yes I not only prefer working for a flexible organisation, but I will even recommend NBS to my friends and families. It is a great place to work for those who cannot wok the bureaucratic hours."
"HR Manager said that these practices definitely aid in attracting a dedicated and talented workforce. We get many personal queries from graduates registering their interest to work at NBS."
NBS has got positive results from its flexible work policies and their relation to employee retention. .
Some of the Interview comments include
"I am not interested to join another organisation. I got the FWA, I had asked for. It helped me take care of my baby and be close to him. I really value my employer."
One more shared her views "I did hear many stories from my friends who are requesting an FWA that suits her. Despite of the repeated requests progress has not made so far. I will be grateful to my employer that I get my shift around my university time table and it really helps me."
"Yes I am very proud to say that NBS is an employer of choice. I am very happy that I am a part of NBS"
Discussion on the findings (Survey & Interviews)
According to the results obtained from both qualitative and quantitative research, majority of the employees at NBS are happy about their flexible work arrangements. NBS is trying to ensure a flexible and comfortable work environment for all of its employees. More than 80% of the employees agreed that they are satisfied about the arrangement with their employer and NBS values it employees. Both the interviews and the survey show that 80% of the respondents were able to reduce their stress levels and plan their work around their family commitments creating a perfect harmony.
But it is to be noted here that during the interviews an issue about the manager's attitudes has come up.
In their words
"I am aware about the legislation and the provision of FWA at NBS. But my manager is not too fond of them. I have to abide by him due to my performance appraisals. So flexible working is out of the question for me".
Another Interviewee said
"I do get my chores done occasionally using the flexi-time. But no formal arrangements have been made. I did work hard to achieve this position in the company. I am not ready to lose it".
According to the survey 93% of the respondents prefer working flexibly and 85% of them chose NBS because of its flexible work policies.
Even though some of the interviewees agreed to it, one person revealed that
"I think they focus on it because the law required them to do so"
Despite the above arguments from a minor population of the participants survey has shown that NBS is a dedicated employer which considers the well-being of its employees. 87% of the respondents said that NBS is providing them with the FWA they prefer and it definitely has an impact on the employee's levels of Job satisfaction. Even the interviewees admitted that getting work done and still being able to manage issues out of work has significantly improved the employees commitment to the employee.
This response supports Burud and Tumolo's (2004) statement that the organisation which uses its flexible strategies effectively is more likely to be efficient and profitable in the short run and better placed for long-term success. This can be justified with the employees responses where they have valued its employer and stated that they love to stay at their current job. This reduces the training & recruitment costs making the organisation perform better.
As Johnson (1995) says that employees are more likely to leave their job, when they are experiencing conflict between work and family responsibilities.
NBS has a very low turnover rate which is healthy for business.
But one Interviewee said
"I do want to change organisations after a bit of time. It gets me a change of environment and I like it."
But overall the situation at NBS concerning the retention of staff follows Greenberg's(1990) statement that employees will have a positive attitudes to organisation who they perceive to be treating them fairly.
One of the biggest issues, HR Managers are trying to reduce these days is the levels of absenteeism low levels of absence improves the performance of employees and the organisation. This is supported by Sanchez et al (2007) where it is said that an organisation will be able to achieve sustainable competitive advantage it makes effective use of resource, one of which s low level of absence. Many of the respondents abided by the above statement as using flexi time, compressed hours makes them work out an appointment with the doctor or accommodate other personal circumstances without taking the day off.
Overall it can be arguably stated that NBS values its employees as well as realise the business benefits of flexible working. As Clark (2008) says that the flexible working practices can be advantageous to both the organisations and the employees. Since it allows the employees to gain control over their work-life balance, it certainly has its positive effects on the organisations recruitment and retention on process. Employers who are considerate of their employee needs and treat them fairly are definitely known to have better yields in the long run and it even creates a brand choice for the employees in the market.
Summary of the findings and Conclusion
The main aim of this paper is to find out the impact of the flexibility on the employee in terms of work-life balance and his commitment to the organisation. It also focussed on how flexible work practices are helping the organisation in effective recruitment and retention of the staff. The research has stated that the flexible practices indeed have a positive effect on the work force in terms of Job satisfactions and balancing their personal life around their work commitments. Unlike the traditional bureaucratic practices employed by the organisations, today's firms are focussing on the development of employee welfare practices in order to cope up with the global competition and expanding customer expectations.
NBS has set out its own niche in the current market by providing flexible working practices on a higher note to the employees. The research has found out that flexi time, work from home Remote working) and compressed weeks or hours has been proving beneficial to the employees for a variety of reasons. Since majority of the employees are female (76%) the success at NBS can be attributed to the 13% of the female staff returning to work after their maternity leave.
One more success step that has been on NBS account was re-launching the flexible working policies two years ago. This allowed the employees and managers to have a complete awareness on the policies and how it works. The benefits are clearly visible when the researcher compared her survey to NBS's employee survey which has shown that
76% of people are happy with their WLB
Staff turnover rate is Â½ the industry average.
82% of respondents want to stay in NBS
Attracting a wide part of potential employees.
And in addition it has mentioned that operating cost have fallen by £185 million over the past 3 years.
Similarly organisations should strive to imbibe flexible work options to their employees and reap the benefits. From the case study of NBS, it is conclusively clear that the flexibility in organisation not only benefits the employer or the employee, but the organisation as a whole. Therefore flexible working should be recognised as effective strategy that aids the forms in terms of competitive advantage and long term benefits.
Based on the evidence, some recommendations have been formulated by the researcher which when applied effectively may create a better implementation of the currently existing flexible working policies at NBS.
Training the managers: Since the concept of flexibility is relatively new, creating awareness about the flexible work policies and its link to WLB and productivity helps to bridge the gap between implementation and rhetoric.
Awareness: Employees at NBS have some perceptions and beliefs that taking advantage of the flexible working may push their career backwards. This can be overcome by linking appraisals to performance rather that number of hours worked.
Links with Government: Taking advantage of the government support schemes and training programs for employees helps overcome the shadows of FWA.
Strategic creation of jobs those are flexible in nature.
Onsite child care: Since the workforce comprises 80% of female employees building a crèche facility would be beneficial or helping with childcare.
HSBC runs a crèche for its employee's children instead of part of their salary. But onsite child care helps the mums to overcome the anxiety of leaving the child at some other nursery faraway.
Annual employee surveys and publishing the results on the intranet and newsletters helps the employee to know about the flexible working results and importance.