Does the Finance Sector Need More Flexible Working?

Our lives are getting busier. Our commutes are getting longer and becoming more stressful, and we continue to squeeze as much as possible into our evenings and weekends.

Yet, our working days are getting more demanding and the time we must juggle both our personal, and professional lives seems to be even more restricted.

Maintaining a positive work-life balance is a key factor for employee happiness. Because of this, and in order to better work around personal lives and work demands, dynamic working, which was once a somewhat unfamiliar term, is now a highly sought-after workplace benefit. Below Derren Bevington, Business Director at Michael Page Finance, explains further.

In fact, in previous research, we found that 66% of professionals working in banking and financial services would like to see flexible working hours offered by their employer and 53% also listed work from home options in their top three desired benefits. However, only 26% of those surveyed had actually been given the option to work from home.

Why is it important?

A recent study conducted by Michael Page shows that millennials expect flexible working to be offered as standard in the workplace and not as an additional benefit. However, this doesn’t mean that those who fall outside of this age group don’t equally enjoy the benefits of dynamic working or want them to be included as part of their working life. The ability to plan work around personal life events allows individuals to better organise their time, take care of their physical and mental wellbeing, and ensures that they are in the best position to manage a productive work schedule. As we are in a candidate-short market, it is important good people are retained. Being able to adapt to the changing motivations of employees to drive forward retention in later years is key.

How to introduce dynamic working

What’s important to remember is that flexibility in the workplace is defined differently by everyone; what works for one person may not work for another. The key to success is to ensure that it is tailored to the individuals in the workforce and that they have the option to choose what is important to them.

Flexible working does not mean fewer working hours. It is a way to show employees they are trusted to do their job no matter the time or location they choose to work in.

Flexible working does not mean fewer working hours. It is a way to show employees they are trusted to do their job no matter the time or location they choose to work in.

These are my top tips for implementing flexible working successfully:

  • Facilitate home access – the ability to work from home or a remote location can significantly improve productivity. Workers in these industries are usually comfortable with reviewing their emails first thing in the morning or responding to queries well after 5:30. In fact, the ability to sign in during a commute can amount to a lot more getting done, well before the rest of the team have even signed in.
  • Establish flexibility champions – these individuals should be from right across the business, to demonstrate how they make it work best for them. This employee may be someone who takes a longer lunch break but comes in an hour early to compensate. Alternatively, it could be a parent who comes in later so they can drop their kids off in the mornings. Some companies have also enabled some of their employees, particularly those who live further distances from the office, to leave early as a means of making an earlier train but encourage them to log back in once they get home.
  • Highlight great performance – this should happen for both employees in the office and those who on occasion work dynamically. However, if there is a noticeable improvement in an individual’s performance after adopting a dynamic working schedule, be sure that it is known across the company.
  • Agree weekly deliverables – regardless of flexibility requirements – work from home, longer lunches, or later start times – every employee needs to know their KPIs and daily responsibilities to ensure they are working effectively. When dynamic working is introduced, this becomes increasingly important to ensure employees know what is expected of them.
  • Consider job sharing – where it is feasible, perhaps two employees would work better on a part-time basis sharing the responsibilities of a single role on a week to week basis? Job sharing is a workable solution if two colleagues or new starters are only able to work restricted hours during the week. The key consideration for this working arrangement is to ensure each employee is effectively communicating with the person they are handing the job over to, this is so they are aligned in the requirements for the following day.

Ultimately, it’s important to define what dynamic working means in your business before implementation and ensure this is communicated to everyone in the company. The secret to maintaining a flexible working approach is to always make certain it remains adaptable to everybody’s needs. This working arrangement should be adjustable to the ever-changing schedule of people’s lives and encourage employees to produce their best work.

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