Flexible working consultancy Timewise found that with some minor adjustments to work culture employers in these sectors could break-even on the cost of flexible working due to resulting reductions in sick leave and staff turnover.
It found in retail and nursing, flexible working would reduce sick days by 0.8 days per person over three years.
A construction site or teaching staff would see a reduction of one day per person, while carers would see a drop of 1.2 per person.
Flexible working in practice:
Emma Stewart, co-founder of Timewise, argued that frontline workers must be considered in flexible working arrangements if employers are to avoid creating a two-tier workforce between those who can work flexibly and those who cannot.
Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Fixing this wouldn’t just improve lives: it would lead to massive savings for employers. Growing numbers of people are leaving the workplace due to ill health, age and caring responsibilities, which is leading to employers struggling with skills shortages.
"Surely now is the time to invest in tackling the structural barriers that make people feel like they have no choice but to walk away from un-workable jobs.”
Reduced staff turnover was another way companies would make their money back when introducing flexible working.
In the trial, retail saw staff turnover decreased by 5% over three years, construction saw an 11% reduction, and domiciliary care saw a 7% reduction. This equated to four, eight, and five fewer people leaving their jobs respectively every year.
Stewart added: “Giving employees more input and control in how they work improves wellbeing, job satisfaction rates and ultimately their loyalty to an organisation.
“There is now a commercial, as well as moral and social impetus, for looking at ways to help frontline workers to find some kind of balance.”