Flexible and part-time workers outperform full-time counterparts

The percentage of top performance ratings for part-time and reduced-hours workers is higher than across all staff, at 34% vs 14%, according to Working Families

The charity has released a new report assessing the flexible, agile, and family-friendly working policies of its employer members. The 2018 Top Employers for Working Families Benchmark report explores the experiences of 630,000 employees across public, private, and third sector organisations.

Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, said organisations that recognise the value of part-time and reduced-hours workers are reaping the benefits. “This year’s benchmark shows that Working Families’ member organisations 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," she said.

The benchmark exposed some gaps in flexible working practice, however. More than half (52%) of Working Families' member companies 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 flexible workers' line managers: more than half (55%) of organisations have only trained a quarter or less of managers. Twenty-three per cent have provided no training at all.

It is vital that management are given the tools to manage flexible working effectively, Van Zyl said. “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," she said.

She said that the charity is working to make flexibility an option from the moment a role is advertised. “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," she said.

Van Zyl added that shared parental leave (SPL) must not be seen as secondary to maternity leave. “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 sends the powerful cultural message that the organisation fully supports fathers who want to take SPL.”

More than three-quarters (77%) of Working Families’ member companies match SPL to their contractual maternity provisions, the benchmark survey found. This is best practice policy, as providing a higher level of pay for fathers is essential for driving take up, the charity stated. More than four out of five members (82%) have seen uptake of SPL from fathers.

The survey also found that two-thirds (68%) of the charity's member organisations go beyond legislative requirements and offer their employees the right to request flexible working from their first day of employment, with more than a third (34%) of the organisations routinely stating the opportunities for flexibility in their job adverts.