Summer staff shortages – might flexible working policies for your staff be the solution?

The sun is shining and it’s July. Which means that the whole country is poised for their summer holidays, family day outs, festival trips, the World Cup and Wimbledon on the TV ….….lots of marvellous reasons not to be in the office!!

Great news for your staff, but probably less than great news for you if you are facing staff shortages in the office or are trying to plan holiday cover over the Summer.

I’ve recently blogged about how to tactically plan staffing cover over the Summer, so hopefully you are generally on top of things. But I have been wondering whether small businesses should be taking a more strategic view of things – considering how we can be more flexible and innovative with our working practices. Which led me to thinking about flexible working again…..

Might flexible working be part of the solution to more efficient resourcing in your business?

Well flexible working is certainly not being commonly utilised at the moment. Studies show that while more than half of workers are aware of their right to request flexible working, less than a quarter have made a request with their employers. The main reasons cited by employees for this were a lack of trust (chosen by 31% of the 2,000 survey participants), a business culture that just doesn’t encourage working outside of the usual office setting (28%), and a lack of the appropriate technology to facilitate it (20%).

Some of my clients, the brave ones have introduced flexible working whole heartedly, and their businesses are flourishing! So it may be time to think about how you could make flexible working a way of doing business for your company. Giving your employees more freedom about where and how they work can lead to skyrocketed productivity and can often be a solution for plugging staffing shortage and gaps. A study by Regus even found that 70% of managers saw an increase in output after implementing flexible working. And given these tough economic times, top talent will always have other options, and offering this kind of flexibility to attract new staff as well as keep your existing staff happy and more willing to stay with your organisation in the longer term can’t be a bad thing.

So why not consider whether a flexible working pattern might be a real positive for your business?

First of all, think about whether it’s a realistic option for your business. If you’re running a retail operation, it might simply be the case that you can’t allow workers such as sales assistants to work away from the premises. If the business is office based though, there could be some small changes that can be made to the way day-to-day activities are carried out. Next up, it’s technological issues. How will your staff access the systems they need to carry out their work? It might be fairly straightforward, though some businesses will need to have conversations with their IT suppliers.

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t necessarily need to invest masses of cash in this area. If you need to hold team meetings, for example, you could do so using free services like Skype. Be sure to address the issue of security, especially if you handle sensitive information, but don’t make things harder than they need to be.

The great news is that if you put in place a properly constructed flexible working environment, you will probably find that staff shortages and gaps can be a thing of the past in some business areas. An employee who for example is not able to be in the office during the school holidays, may however still be able to man a telephone or laptop from home, and be very glad to do so if it means a bit of flexibility to attend Sports Day perhaps.

Thinking about offering flexible working policies for your staff, but not quite sure how to get started? I can help you through the process. Call or email me today for a FREE 15-minute initial discussion about how flexible working could benefit your business.