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Trust is the most important factor in implementing flexible working successfully, according to a new report.
The report, Flexible working – are employers missing a trick?, by Great Place to Work® explores the reasons why some organisations struggle to implement flexible working successfully for the benefit of both employer and employee.
Great Place to Work® analysed data from average UK organisations and from its own database of the top 100 Best Workplaces in the UK to see what differences there were between average and top performing organisations when it comes to flexible working. They found there were six critical factors to successful flexible working. It said that, whilst technology is a key enabler, without a number of other factors in place this was in itself unlikely to make flexible working successful. Of those six factors, trust was the most important. Other important factors was an enabling culture; management which understands the business benefits of flexible working and can manage different types of flexibility; technology; a focus on performance and outputs, not presenteeism; the tools and systems needed to work flexibly and manage flexible workers.
Marianna Roach, Head of Research and author of the report, said: “Employers need to be able to trust employees to find a way of working flexibly that suits them and the business without affecting performance. When trust is high we find that employees are better able to balance their personal life with their work life and there is more collaboration and co-operation between individuals and teams which helps drive innovation. However, trust needs to be within a framework of effective line management, clear objectives and performance management and the right systems and processes to support employees to work in the way that suits them and the business best. Those that do are better placed to reap the benefits flexible working offers.”
The report also found organisations which already have high levels of trust also have higher rates of flexible working. The UK’s Best Workplaces have trust scores of around 85% compared to 55% at the average workplace. For instance, 75% of Best Workplaces offer working from home, compared to just 22% of average workplaces. It says only 63% of employees in average organisations think management trusts them to do their job without looking over their shoulders compared to 88% in Best Workplaces; and only 48% of employees in average organisations felt they were encouraged to balance their work and personal lives compared to 76% at Best Workplaces.