Keep it flexible! – Lily Shippen Recruitment says employers should practise what they preach
Treat your staff like human beings with lives to live and they won’t want to leave you – that’s the view of 26-year-old recruitment entrepreneur Lily Shippen.
Lily, 26, who specialises in recruiting Pas, EAs and secretaries from all over the UK, knows what it’s like to work for an inflexible employer.
“There’s no time to do any of the basics of life when you’re working long hours, like go to the doctor/dentist for routine check-ups or, if you’re a mum, an extra hour in the morning can make all the difference to feeling in control or stressed, which is not great for anyone who is about to start work. Too many women are reluctantly leaving work or going part-time because their employers won’t allow flexibility, so they’re missing out on some top talent.
“I worked from 8.30am – 6.30pm and it was stressful because you felt like you were on a hamster wheel with no time to sort out your life.”
That’s why Lily, whose company is based in Manchester, practises what she preaches and offers her staff a flexible lunch hour, so they can go to the gym, or shopping or take care of any other essential task. They can also work from home, if required.
“The pay-back is that I have happy, relaxed staff, who can concentrate on the job, so it’s little wonder that I’m constantly getting requests for flexible working.
“We’ve found candidates are placing as much importance on a company’s non-financial benefits as they are on the financial benefits. Some are even willing to leave a job or change employer for flexible working opportunities,” says Lily.
Legally, all employees have the right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers. This is known as ‘making a statutory application’.
However, employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible. But, it doesn’t work for all industries and Lily advises talking to your employer and putting forward a comprehensive proposal for discussion.
A quick Google of ‘flexible working advantages’ returns 84m results, compared with 23.5m for ‘flexible working disadvantages’.
Studies have proven that flexible working enhances recruitment and retention, increases staff motivation, cuts absence rates, increases diversity and can promote a positive company culture. It even has financial benefits, reducing overheads, cutting the need for overtime, and bringing training and recruitment costs down.
Likewise, the benefits flexible working affords employees are many. It can reduce stress, fatigue and the chances of burnout. It offers staff more flexibility in their lives, helping them juggle family life and interests with their careers.
Lily believes that a failure to take flexible working onboard could see some businesses miss out on the best employees, particularly millennials, who often question the perceived ‘normalities’ of office life.
According to a TotalJobs survey, nearly 80% of employees said that they would be less likely to leave a job if their employer allowed them to have flexible working hours. Similarly, 75% of employers claim flexible working boosts retention rates.
Says Lily: “It’s not just about working from a home or an office. Many miss the company of colleagues. The true value of flexible working is that employees can choose where and when to work.”
Although the right to request flexible working was introduced in 2014, just 9.8% of jobs paying more than £20,000 are advertised as being flexible.