Support needed for growing SMEs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALarger SMEs can struggle to implement flexible working practices, according to a report published last week.

The good practice report features case studies of successful flexible working arrangements from the organisation’s Top Employers Awards last year. It is published ahead of next week’s 2013 awards ceremony. Shortlisted candidates include John Lewis, Addison Lee, William Hill and Barclays.

The report said smaller employers could be more creative with flexible working. However, it added: “The move from smaller to larger employer meant many practices that had been ad hoc had to be formalised and management structures had to be set up which consequently impacted on innovation and creativity.”

While employers “got around this by reviewing their whole work culture and instituting company-wide training processes,” the report said more support was needed at this stage of a company’s evolution.

In addition, Workingmums said family friendly working has historically been viewed too much as an employee benefit or a recruitment tool. Winners of the awards had seen beyond this, it said. “Employer after employer spoke of improved productivity [particularly from homeworkers, where there was an awareness of a danger that people who worked from home might overwork], a more motivated, loyal workforce and reduced absences and overheads.”

Key themes that emerged from the report included leadership and training, with senior executives acting as role models in their organisations and the need to train managers on the implementation of the flexible working agenda.

The report said top employers have been offering flexible working to all employees in advance of legislation requiring them to do so and were also embedding the principles in their business – making flexible working the norm rather than simply responding to ad hoc employee requests. Engaging staff, providing networks of support and communicating the benefits of flexible working were also important.

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Categories: Implementation, News

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