Over the last decade, flexible work options have increasingly become a part of the staff make-up for many SMEs. Here, HR specialist Fiona Anson explains how flexible employment options could help you.
Employees no longer place as much importance on traditional full-time 9-5 roles and are instead opting for part-time, casual and contract positions to help better manage the competing demands of work, family and social life. The flexible workforce is growing, with an estimated 6.7 million people currently working in a flexible capacity (casual, part-time or temporary basis) and economists are predicting even further growth. With an increase in demand, businesses are discovering flexible work options not only benefit employees, but their operations as well. Here are four reasons why SME business owners should take advantage of this growing market by introducing flexible roles.
Manage ebbs and flows: Changes in the economic outlook for small businesses often happen rapidly. If not properly managed, they can have a significant impact on profitability. Tapping into the flexible workforce is a tactic businesses can use to adapt to sudden changes in business. Organisations with flexible employees have the ability to grow or contract quickly and efficiently, better preparing them for the ebbs and flows of business. In industries such as accommodation, food services and retail, the shift away from full-time work towards a more flexible workforce allows them to staff up on short notice during peak times and scale it back when there’s less work.
Attract new employees: Broadening working options for employees to include more flexibility is a great tactic small businesses can use to access this estimated 6.7 million-strong flexible workforce of highly skilled and experienced employees. There are many people, such as working parents and baby boomers, who have taken time off work to focus on family obligations, many of which are only looking for flexible positions to fit around these family commitments. These workers bring with them a great deal of previous experience and already-honed skills that can be highly beneficial and give a business a real competitive edge.
Retain valued employees: Access to flexible work options is the key to retaining valued employees, particularly working parents, students and older workers. Empowering employees to make decisions about their life-work balance reduces stress, promotes wellbeing and fosters a sense of security. Businesses giving employees the opportunity to invest in their relationships outside of work leads to lower staff turnover rates, recruitment costs, downtime and an increase in job satisfaction and business loyalty.
Increase levels of productivity: Many full-time employees who are overwhelmed by large workloads and long 9-5 hours are experiencing increased stress levels and burnout. This can affect business productivity and employee morale. Redesigning roles to include flexible arrangements to suit employees’ lifestyles is vital to businesses optimising a worker’s energy and motivation levels to increase engagement and performance. With an increased demand for part-time, casual and contract roles, small businesses have a great opportunity to take advantage of this large, experienced workforce if approached with the right strategy. Small businesses are discovering flexible work options are a valuable tool to support workers, attract new talent and increase productivity.
Fiona Anson is Founder and Director of Workible.
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