Flexible Working at Christmas can be such a huge benefit. You may already embrace flexible working within your organisation. But if you don’t, then Christmas is a time of year when you might think again.
In general, there are many good reasons to allow flexible working. It can increase productivity, retention, improve trust and wellbeing. But at this time of year, above all others, the gift of flexible working can make a massive difference in your workplace.
This article will look at a few of the reasons why your employees will thank you for allowing flexible working. If you ask them, they will probably come up with things I haven’t listed here. But they are not the only ones to gain from flexibility. Your business will benefit too.
School Holidays and Caring Responsibilities
School holidays are among the most obvious issues which arise at this time of year. Schools close for the holiday period and parents have to make alternative arrangements for childcare. This may mean using up their own hard-earned holiday allowance. Or it may be the additional cost of paid childcare. Either way, many parents will be very grateful for some flexibility which allows them to be there for their kids.
And it is not just those with children. Many of us have caring responsibilities and they don’t all involve children. Day centres for the elderly or disabled also close at this time of year, or have staff shortages. The additional burden falls on the nominated carers. Paid carers also want time off to be with their own loved ones. It can help enormously if you can allow flexibility in how and where your employees do their work for you.
Nativity Plays and Carol Services
While we are thinking about parents, we should consider that they are likely to want to take time out for various activities. Schools put on nativity plays and carol services, or even just Christmas parties. It is only natural that parents want to attend and support their children.
Again, it is not just those with children. It is the time of year for parties and celebrations. It is a time for short break trips to visit Christmas markets, or see various tourist sites with Christmas lights. Whether or not people actively celebrate Christmas, many want to be with their families. For some, that can mean extensive travel.
If you can give the flexibility to allow people to fit all these arrangements around their work, you will make huge strides towards a culture of trust and mutual benefit.
Driving Home For Christmas
Driving, or any other form of travel, can be incredibly stressful at Christmas. Rail and bus timetables are often disrupted. In the northern hemisphere, the winter days are shorter. So travel to and from work is done in the dark. The roads are busy. Often the weather can be bad, wet or snow, or both. And there is always a concern that someone may have had too much to drink.
If we can adjust the times at which we travel, then it can be such a relief. Or maybe even cut out the commute to work completely.
And on the subject of alcohol, what about last night’s party? How many of us can say we have never been to work with a hangover? The effects of alcohol hang about a lot longer than we think. Even if we don’t feel ill, we may be slow to react – or less alert. Certainly, we are not safe behind the wheel of a car. Even if we make it safely in to work, then how productive will we be? If we could have a later start and finish later, or make the time up another day, then that could really help. It might also mean we produce better results.
Preparations for Christmas
For many of us, Christmas is a really busy time of year at home. There is extra cooking to do. Making a cake or preparing party food. There are extra beds to make up for all those visitors. Not to mention the shopping. And wrapping up the Christmas presents. Writing cards and letters and decorating the house. All of it is great fun, of course, but it all takes time and adds to the stress.
If our employer is flexible we can work at home, or adjust our hours. This helps us to plan better and achieve all those extra things without so much anxiety.
Which means that flexible working is also good for our wellbeing.
Business benefits of flexible working at Christmas
As an employer, you may think that this is all about your employees. And, of course, it is a huge benefit for them.
But you will reap the rewards as well. When you allow flexible working, your staff will be less stressed. They will be able to concentrate properly at work and their productivity levels will be higher. They will be happy and more healthy and that will affect their dealings with their colleagues, and your customers and suppliers.
The biggest benefit for you as an employer will be the increased trust between you and your employees. Your reputation as a good employer will be enhanced. That can only improve retention and recruitment, as well as giving a happier workplace.
So give your employees the gift of flexible working this Christmas, and see what gifts it brings for your business in return.
If you think this article is useful and you would like any strategic HR support or information on dealing with this – or any other people-related issue in your business – contact us for a no-obligation chat.
Jill Aburrow runs an HR strategic consultancy business – JMA HR . She provides strategic HR advice and support to businesses who want to improve loyalty, growth and profit. Why not join the JMA HR mailing list? Jill has been a professional strategic HR advisor for over two decades. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Employment Law.