Flexibility in action

The average increase in productivity for flexible workers is 21%, worth at least £5-6 million on the bottom line. Stress-related absence has been reduced by 26% through flexible working alone.
Director of People Networks, Telecoms company

One of our members (a large utility company with a multi-site operation) calculated that supporting carers brought a benefit of £1 million a year. One of their Directors said: "With a caring emergency you are not dealing with an absence, you are potentially dealing with a vacancy if you don't respond appropriately. The cost of recruiting is incomparable to the cost of 2-3 days' emergency leave. Retaining carers through support or special leave arrangements represents a saving to the company of about £1 million per year."

Examples of simple and effective action to enable carers to balance their paid work with their caring responsibilities include:

  • Flexible working practices - such as flexi-time, home working, annualised hours, compressed hours, shift swapping, self-rostering, staggered hours, job sharing, term-time working, part time working and flexible holidays.
  • Emergency leave - can be critically important to carers, who can be called home at short notice when care arrangements break down or the person they care for falls ill.
  • Flexible leave arrangements - compassionate leave, planned leave, paid leave for emergency or planned caring.
  • Workplace support - in-house networking groups, employee assistance programmes, carer policies.
  • Simple adjustments - access to a private telephone or car parking close to the workplace to make access in and out of work quicker and easier.

Evidence shows these flexibilities can reduce staff turnover and absence thereby cutting employment costs. The evidence from employers themselves shows that it is rarely abused and increases loyalty and commitment.

Evidence from carers in the workplace also shows the benefits for employees and employers. Supported by Barclays LifeSkills, Carers UK has created a series of videos to help those over 50 remain in work, many of whom may be struggling to juggle work with caring responsibilities. The short films feature carers talking about the benefits of flexible working and how it has helped them. You can access them here on the Carers UK website.

For more evidence see:

  • Flexible Boss profile: Ian Peters, chair of EfC and former Director of Customer Facing Strategy at Centrica, parent company of British Gas, tells Flexible Boss magazine that flexible working is one part of a strategy that makes complete business sense.
  • The Government's National Carers Strategy. Annex B, The evidence base for supporting carers in work, was prepared by Employers for Carers.