The successful British companies making flexible working work for them

Welcome to 21st century Britain. Gone are the days where shrewd managers insisting that staff clock in and clock out under their watchful eye, dominated our common working practices.

Thanks to the growing need to keep hold of the most talented individuals by offering them a work-life balance to suit their needs, Britain has transformed into a society where a staggering 80% of companies benefit from offering flexible working options to their staff. Here's our pick of a few that are leading the way in making flexible working, work for them:
With approximately 13,000 employees, the Vaillant Group develops and manufactures products such as central heating boilers and air conditioning systems at 16 sites in eight countries, selling them in more than 80 countries.
The Vaillant Group work alongside workforce management specialists Kronos to ensure staff retention remains high and absence is low.
Since introducing flexible working practices Vaillant have recorded stunning improvements in a host of key areas.
These include:
·         Staff turnover down from 3.8% to 0.6%
·         Absence levels down 31% from 4.1% to 2.8%
·         Improved employee morale
·         30% reduction in temporary staff costs
·         80% drop in lost time due to skills shortages
Vaillant’s Continuous Improvement Manager, Allan Harley says: “Offer good, flexible working conditions and people will want to work here.  And the key to being able to offer a high degree of flexibility is a good time and attendance system.
"We give clear and concise messages on what you can and can’t do and people appreciate it if you’re unambiguous about what’s acceptable and what is not," he adds.
“If you turn up and work hard you will be paid correctly. But more than that, we will try to accommodate whatever time off you need.”
The company is proud of the fact that 99% of all holiday requests made by over 250 shop floor employees at their plant in Belper, Derbyshire are met and will gladly take on trained agency staff to cope with absences if need be.
One common request made by Vaillaint staff was for an earlier finish on Fridays, particularly during the summer. The company offered staff the opportunity to work half an hour longer from Monday to Thursday. Harley comments: “The results have been fantastic, the plant meets its production target earlier in the week, the shop floor loves it and Friday afternoon absences have dropped through the floor. Changes like that have to be agreed by everybody – we wouldn’t get into a situation where you have 50% working in this way and 50% not. Kronos supports us in allowing us to make shift changes easily in the system for groups of employees.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
PwC, the global professional services firm and accountancy giant, provides all employees with the opportunity to request flexible working. The company uses a formidable streamlined intranet system where employees can click on a flexible working link, read up on what's on offer and make the application online.
The site even includes guidance on areas to consider when an employee wants to make that application. HR managers, Customer Service staff and specialist people managers are also on hand to offer friendly help and guidance.
Alllianz Insurance
Leading general insurer Allianz Insurance employs over 4,000 people across 29 different locations in the UK.
Some of the flexible arrangements offered to staff include:
            Varying your start and finish times to better fit with childcare and transport arrangements
            Additional hours being compensated for by time off in lieu
            Time off for Doctor’s appointments
            Occasional or regular home working
Amanda Biles, Communications Officer for Allianz said: "We firmly believe that employees who work flexibly can better match the performance required by their roles with their interests and commitment outside of work, for example being able to spend more time with children and partners, care for elderly relatives, do charitable work in the community or pursue a hobby."
"We recognised the need to integrate flexible working models into our business and are confident that this gives a better success rate in recruiting and retaining the best talent."
Flexible working practices snapped up by Alliance employees include part time working, compressed hours, remote/home working, term time working and career breaks or sabbaticals. 
Ecommerce experts Actinic employ around 50 employees and have found that people working particularly for their IT team benefit from flexible working.
Chris Barling, Actinic's CEO said: "As an ecommerce software supplier, Actinic tries to be as flexible as possible, although this is to some extent dictated by the demands of the job.
"We can't provide full flexibility for people who, for instance, answer customer queries on the phone. However, where it makes little difference when, or where, work is conducted, we try to let people work in the way that suits them. This particularly applies to our IT development team which is scattered across the UK, Hungary & India. Some of these seem to lead semi-nocturnal lifestyles and there is a notable example when someone commented to a UK-based developer that they had started early. 'I haven't gone to bed yet' was the reply!"
The UK's flagship telecommunications provider has over 65,000 employees who work flexibly.
A spokesman says: "This creates a culture where the organisation is more acceptable to the idea of flexible working and lets our people find solutions so they can work in a way that fits for them and the business.  
“It's not just working mothers. Dads and partners also have a role to play, and want more time to spend with their children.  At BT they have the opportunity to request flexible working and benefit from such arrangements.  Our people choose to work flexibly for a number of other reasons too, such as interests outside of BT, caring responsibilities or to achieve a better work life balance."
"By allowing people to work where and when they want, focusing on contribution rather than presenteeism, employees are more engaged and productive."



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