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Could Flexible Working Be Good For Your Family Firm?

21st July 2014 David Twiddle, Twiddle & Co

Could flexible working practices enhance the competitive advantage of your family firm? 

For some family businesses, flexible working is perceived critically – it causes more paperwork and may reduce productivity, and what’s more, companies fear that this flexibility may lead to further expectations from employees. This may have a significant impact on family owned businesses where full time dedication is crucial as you grow.

With flexible working laws changing as of June 30th, the government has listed eight types of flexible worker for you to be aware of. Will you adopt your working policies to embrace flexible talent?

#1: Part-time – Currently the most well known flexible working type, part-time employees work less than full-time hours – usually by working fewer days.

#2: Job sharing – Often posited as a solution for filling a skills gap with flexible working requirements, job sharing permits multiple employees to share a position, meaning that you could keep an existing employee and have your HR find another candidate to fill any skills gap.

#3: Working from home – With the rapid growth and improvement of social software such as Google Apps and Skype, employees can work at home but still maintain the productivity offered by an office environment.

#4: Compressed hours – Employees now have the option of working the same number of hours for the business, but they can now choose to do their allotted hours within a smaller time frame, such as adding a few hours on at the beginning and end of the normal working day. This can be useful during busy working seasons. 

#5: Flexitime – The employee can choose when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’ that are stipulated by your company. For example a family restaurant business may have a dinner rush between 11.45am-1.45pm that could be termed as your elected core hours.

#6: Annualised hours – The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but is offered some flexibility about when they work. It might be that you implement ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and allow them to work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work. This could prove useful during busy seasons when it pays to have an extra pair of hands on board.

#7: Staggered hours – The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers. Taking care of employees is important –  perhaps particularly so in family businesses – that means having an HR team that allows you to cater to their needs. Working parents will appreciate staggered hours as they can work alongside a school schedule while you can retain a valued worker.

#8: Phased retirement – Default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part time. This option can prove a popular one, as often enough the most senior non-family employees are the most experienced in a family business, and this strategy allows them to remain involved in the company when they’re unable to work full-time.

Flexible working may be just what you need for your family business. It has the potential to attract a wider scope of talent that can’t be retained in a traditional office environment and allows you to attract the crème de la crème for your business. 


About the Author - David Twiddle is the Managing Director of Twiddle and Co, who specialise in helping fast growing family and mid-market businesses to source the right talent for their businesses.

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