Whilst we often avoid the cliché’ it is generally recognised that the combined knowledge, skill and talent of your workforce is the engine of corporate success. Attracting and Retaining talent is a relentless task that will become even harder as employment levels continue to rise and competition for talent becomes greater.
However, I suggest that simply offering Money is not enough nor is it a sound strategy for attracting or retaining the talent of today. The first reason is obvious; money isn’t unique or special. Any company can simply match or exceed your offer. The second reason is just a reflection of our times; The 80’s dream that students would retire in their 50’s and live a life of leisure for the following 40 years has disappeared. Today they can expect to be working for 50+ years and want to do something meaningful and rewarding not just in work but outside of work. They value time as much as they value money.
The problem may seem daunting but the solution is very much alive within the public sector where pay is often very limited and they have no option but to explore other means of attracting and retaining staff. Their solution is Flexitime – providing staff flexibility around what times they work during the week. This popular approach helps attract and retain staff who otherwise might be attracted elsewhere through the promise of extra money.
Flexitime is a “sticky” solution because staff can interweave their work patterns and home patterns and this is more beneficial than simply a pay rise elsewhere that would disrupt their home patterns (whether that dropping the kids off to school, going to the gym or a myriad of other activities). It fully integrates staff to the organisation whilst providing the work-life-balance they value.
At this point it’s quite common to receive a list of objections; The list is too long and the general refrain is that if the Public Sector can make it work then it is within easy grasp of the corporate sector.
However, the two main objections tend to be;
- “It’s very hard to administer and manage.” Answer: “There are eSolutions on the market today that handle this effortlessly and improve staff visibility and management than ever before. “
- “We need people at set times or on specific days to be in the office.” Answer: “Flexitime is not a free-for-all. You set the rules but within those constraints you provide flexibility. “
THE NUT IS BIGGER THAN YOU THINK
This will often lead into a discussion about whether the solution is a sledgehammer and the problem being just a nut. Staff turnover varies from organisation to organisation but the average is 15%. In general, you feel the pain less because attrition occurs over a year – imagine the pain if 15% resigned in a single week!
In general, it will cost you one year’s salary to recruit and train a new member of staff. This does not allow for all the knowledge lost that cannot be quantified though figures. But the numbers add up.
Of course, not all attrition is due to conflicting work patterns which is why staff exit interviews and surveys are important so you can assess the issues and impact of solutions.
But what if you could decrease attrition by a third? What impact would that have on productivity, reduced recruitment and training costs?
Then there is staff recruitment. Do you survey those that decline a job offer? Are you losing the best candidates because of inflexible work patterns? Does when people work matter more to you than how well they do their work?
How many staff take sick days because of personal diary conflicts? Almost impossible to measure but almost certainly it occurs in every organisation with inflexible work patterns.
THE VALUE OF TIME
The final discussion is often about how valuable flexitime is to staff. The answer of course is that depends on the individual, but only by extent not by absolute.
An employee on £10 per hour will earn about £19,500 per year (gross) and spends 2 hours a day commuting to work during rush hour. By working flexibly, he can cut his journey time from 2 hours to 1 hour a day by avoiding the rush hour. That’s worth (deducting his holiday time) £2,400 per year NET. The equivalent in gross salary would result in an 18% increase.
In another example, an employee that commuted by train to work could save between £500 and £1,500 a year by traveling off-peak.
So, benefits for staff are not just about fitting in personal plans but also saving time and in some cases saving money. And in these examples, many companies would struggle to match the cash value that translates into flexitime.
ITS ABOUT TIME
Whether the discussion is about how to reward staff when times are commercially tough or how to attract and retain staff when times are good, it’s about time to start discussion now.
Some tips to get you started;
- Analyse the figures for staff turnover and categorise the reasons. Your exit interviews need to be carefully constructed to gain genuine and informative information.
- Similarly, you need to follow up your application rejections to gain insight.
- Get a deeper view of sickness. Not just occurrences but durations.
- Implement the Bradford Factor to get another layer of detail.
- Identify the staffing groups that easily map to flexitime
- Be clear about what times are flexible and what are not.
- Create a policy with clear and transparent rules.
- Ensure you have a system in place that eases administration, provides transparency and helps demonstrate the benefits.