Line managers still resisting flexible working

Feb 23 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Almost half of employers are now doing more than the legal minimum when it comes to promoting, encouraging and implementing flexible working practices, a study has suggested.

But the survey of 585 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also found line managers complaining that managing flexible workers was a challenge and changing entrenched attitudes was an uphill struggle.

The research reported that four out of 10 organisations were now extending the right to request flexible working beyond the legislative requirement.

There was a growing recognition, too, that flexible working could have a positive impact on staff motivation, recruitment and retention when implemented successfully.

More than eight out of 10 employers – 84 per cent- believed flexible working practices had positive effect on retention.

More than half felt recruitment had benefited from the implementation of flexible working practices and 70 per cent believed flexible working had a positive impact on motivation, said the CIPD.

Operational pressures were the most significant constraint on organisations when it came to implementing flexible working practices, followed by concerns over whether they would still be able to meet customer demands.

Yet 45 per cent of organisations polled, which offered flexible working, reported a positive impact on productivity, suggesting, said the CIPD, this could be a fear in the minds of managers, rather than one actually present.

More than half of employers said line managers reported difficulties in implementing flexible working practices.

How they managed individuals working more flexibly was a big issue, as was their attitudes to flexible working.

Just over a quarter of employees currently made use of flexible working arrangements, and almost two-thirds of employers reported an increase in the number of workers making use of flexible working arrangements over the past three years.

Rebecca Clake, CIPD organisation and resourcing adviser, said: “Organisations need to do more to get their line managers buy-in.

"They need to be set clear criteria against which flexible working requests are assessed. This will enable line managers to make informed decisions on requests for flexible working and demonstrate fairness between different employees.

"Employers should look for opportunities to use flexible working where employee needs and business needs coincide,” she added.