But I’m a small business, I can’t do flexible working arrangements

flexible working arrangements for small businessesThink you’re too small to offer flexible working arrangements, think again!

Think family friendly employment is just for big business, well this article is almost certain to have you rethink that. The benefits to smaller businesses are just the same as they are to larger business, perhaps even more so because they are compounded by size.  Think of introducing a change to a company of 1000 or even 100?  How many people will embrace the new initiative?  How many will resist it?  Change is something all businesses, large and small, can struggle with, but change is potentially easier to manage in a smaller business because visibility of the impact of that change is clearer.  If someone isn’t happy, it will be more obvious in a small business than a large and therefore can be corrected easier (theoretically).

Using this philosophy, smaller businesses should see the positive changes of flexible working arrangements much faster than a bigger business and a smaller workforce means the initial preparation and ongoing management phase could be simpler too.  And with so many positives being reported from flexible working arrangements, it beckons the question, what are you waiting for?  Some of the major benefits of providing flexible working arrangements include:

Improvements in Retention

Companies offering flexible working arrangements are reporting improvements above 30%, with most marked improvements being the retention of female staff members.  With the cost of losing key staff being anywhere between 40% and 400% of their annual salary, can you afford not to consider this impact.  Small business bonus: When a 100 employee business loses a staff member, they lose 1% of their staff, when a 10 employee, it’s 10%!  This aspect of FWAs should tweak the interest of even the most staunch opponent.

Improvements in Attraction

Companies regularly cite that potential hires saw them in a better light when they started offering flexible working arrangements.  In a recent survey 83% of people who joined a company in the last two years cited flexibility as an “important factor” when they decided to accept the role.  Small Business Bonus: Offering flexible working arrangements can help level the recruitment playing field for you and help you lure “A” players away from the clutches of larger businesses.

Improvements in Engagement

Companies offering flexible working arrangements see almost immediate jumps in engagement with up to 70% of employees agreeing the changes make their working lives better and more manageable.  Small business bonus: Imagine trying to change the culture in a 1000+ or even 100+ employee business.  It would take years of planning and executing before a difference is felt, but with a small business you only have to bring around a few staff members to your way of thinking.  With larger business citing up to 70% of staff embracing the change, perhaps your statistics could be even better again?

Improvements in Productivity

In a 2012 study by Regus, 70% of managers reported an increase in productivity after a shift to flexible working arrangements.  Outside management, 47% of staff surveyed said they try to be “extra visible” by sending more emails and making more calls, while 39% said that they worked longer hours to prove they’re not slacking off.  Small Business Bonus: A boost in productivity helps any sized business, but image your figures with a lift like this!

Reductions in Absenteeism

In a 2012 CIPD study undertaken in Britain, 56% of employers found that absenteeism dropped after they adopted flexible working practices and this increased to a 63% drop where telework programs were used.  Small business bonus: As with the improvements in retention, if you take 1 employee out of 100 strong company, it gets by, but when you take 1 out of a 10 strong company – it’s potential mayhem.  With reductions of up to two thirds available, it’s a tough statistic to ignore.

When these statistics started coming out nearly a decade ago, it might have been easy to dismiss flexible working arrangements as a trend or as only being the domain of larger businesses, but as time passes and more and more studies are done, it’s clear to see that flexible working arrangements work.  And they work for small businesses as well as they do for large and they work for employees as much as they do for employers.  Do you have a question regarding flexible working arrangements?  Check out more flexible working arrangement data here, leave a comment below or you can email me.


Leigh Grigaliunas

Leigh is an owner and co-founder of School Hours Pty Ltd.Leigh's passion for helping others coupled with his desire to achieve a balance between raising children and earning a living, lead him to create School Hours Pty Ltd with his wife Yasmin.School Hours will be the place to go for Australian parents wanting to connect with progressive thinking, family friendly employers.

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