October 2, 2018
A new report from the charity Working Families assessing the flexible, agile, and family-friendly working policy of its employer members claims that flexible and part-time workers appear to outperform their full time colleagues. The 2018 Top Employers for Working Families Benchmark report captures the experience of 630,000 employees across some of the UK’s leading public, private, and third sector organisations. The report was launched to mark the National Work-life Week, Working Families’ annual campaign to encourage employers and employees to talk about wellbeing at work and work-life balance.
A key finding is that, amongst the Working Families’ members surveyed, the percentage of top performance ratings for part-time and reduced-hours workers is higher than the percentage of top performance ratings across all staff at 34% vs 14%.
Members are also ahead of the curve on flexible working from the outset. Over two-thirds of the companies (68%) go beyond legislative requirements and offer their employees the right to request flexible working from their first day of employment.
Linked to this is flexible recruitment. More than a third of the organisations routinely state the opportunities for flexibility in their job adverts. Four out of five are using Working Families’ Happy to Talk Flexible Working strapline and logo  in their recruitment adverts.
On flexible working, the benchmark has exposed some gaps in practice. Over half of the employers have only trained half or fewer of their staff that approve flexible working requests in assessing the business case for flexibility. There is a similar gap for the line managers who manage flexible workers: more than half of the organisations have only trained a quarter or less of the managers. Twenty-three per cent have provided no training at all.
Turning to Shared Parental Leave (SPL), over three-quarters of Working Families’ member companies (77%) match SPL to their contractual maternity provisions. This is best practice policy, as providing a higher level of pay for fathers is essential for driving take up. More than four out of five members (82%) have seen fathers using SPL.
Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “This year’s benchmark shows that Working Families’ member organisations really are getting the most out of their part-time and reduced-hours workers in terms of performance, demonstrating that working ‘differently’ is not only good for working parents and carers but also good for business.
“For parents, being able to start work on a flexible basis is crucial. Our members are working to ensure flexibility from the start by advertising roles that can be done on a flexible basis and allowing employees to make a flexible working request from day one.
“Matching contractual maternity leave and pay to SPL provisions opens up more choice for parents by ensuring that SPL is not the ‘poor relation’ to maternity leave and sending the powerful cultural message that the organisation fully supports fathers who want to take SPL. “Effective management of flexibility is crucial to maximise the benefits. Managers need the tools to help them manage the many different forms flexible working arrangements can take. Working Families will continue to work with members – new and established – on training to develop an inclusive, high-performing workforce, fit for the future.”