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CIPD 2014: Agile working adds value to business

An agile workforce helps businesses provide better customer service, reduce costs and retain talent, Lloyds Banking Group diversity and inclusion director Fiona Cannon has said.

Speaking at the CIPD Annual Conference, Cannon said Lloyds had a business benefits analysis carried out on how agile working could impact its bottom line.

Current agile working practices generate value of between 3% to 13% of workforce costs.  

“But the potential value of people working in a different way was a three to seven per cent saving on workforce cost and increased sales revenue of 11 per cent,” she added.

“The biggest drivers of value we found were being able to meet the demand of your customers more effectively, being able to reduce your costs, particularly your on-premise costs, and being able to recruit and retain staff.”

Cannon said it was the first time Lloyds had attempted to put a financial figure on the value of agile working.

Also speaking in the same session, Willis international HR director Ian Cutler said agile working has helped the insurance firm operate more efficiently as it broke down siloed working.

He said to make agile working effective, Willis had to overhaul its performance management model to one that focused more on business objectives and outputs, rather than hours and inputs.

Both Cannon and Cutler said it is important to teach line managers new skills that enable them to manage an agile workforce.

Senior buy-in from the top was also critical. Cutler told the audience Willis’s current CEO is a big advocate of agile working and this provided a lot of momentum to change the culture.  

Cannon said being able to demonstrate the business benefit with figures was also important; another example of how HR data analytics can be effective to help drive change.

Agile working was one of the key themes of the first day. Earlier in the morning’s keynote session, Columbia Business School’s Rita Gunther McGrath pointed out that in the US, 45% of work is not linked to full-time roles.