Retention remedy: Flexible working

Retention remedy: flexible working (Image credit: Thinkstock/iStock)

"You're lucky you've got a job at all," said the office manager to the worker, promptly after the latter had seen his request for a pay rise denied.

Lucky? This employee had slogged his guts out for the company over the last few years in a difficult economic climate. He had earned his position within the firm, just as he thought he had earned an increase to his meagre wage.

However, to a certain extent, the manager was right. There were people in much worse situations, perfectly qualified personnel who'd been out of work for months, even years. 

With the jobs market practically non-existent, it was quite literally a case of like it or lump it for any disgruntled members of staff who had their calls for improved conditions and/or wages fall on deaf ears.

Power shift

Thankfully, things are now getting better.

According to the recently-released UK Jobs Market Report by, the number of advertised vacancies has been climbing steadily, rising by 14 per cent in the last year. In January, there were over 750,000 available posts up for grabs, which also represented a three per cent increase on December.

It has been claimed this figure is set to continue to rise over the coming months, prompting a full economic recovery after years of uncertainty.

For the first time in a long while, this means that if staff don't like it and do decide to lump it, there are actually options available to them. If they're not happy about their wage and have been told there's no chance of it increasing at their current place of employment, then it's possible there's somewhere out there that will pay what they want.

Similarly, if they feel as though they're overworked and under-appreciated, the fear factor is no longer likely to stop them from doing something about it.

The dilemma for employers

This changing situation represents something of a shift in power. Whereas before the rejuvenation of the market it was the employer who held all the cards, talented employees can now have more of a say in how and when they do their job, and what they get paid.

If the company they are working for doesn't like it … well, it knows what it can do.

The transition represents a potentially huge problem for many companies that have previously neglected their staff and have done little to address their dissatisfaction over the last couple of years.

As these firms attempt to pull themselves out of the mire and back to how they operated before the crash, the possibility of having their best personnel abandon ship for greener grass is something that threatens to derail those ambitions.

So the question many are now facing is how do they retain those key members of staff and convince them there is no reason to leave?

Could flexible working be the game-changer?

For some business leaders, the natural response would be to consider throwing money at the issue, offering wage increases when necessary or when requested. However, this represents a risk considering the ideal situation would be to see revenue increase before bumping up the bottom line.

Another spanner in the works here is that, according to research by the Institute of Leadership & Management, cash is no longer king, with only 13 per cent of employees saying a financial incentive is the best way to motivate them.
With this in mind, maybe it's time to consider adopting a flexible working policy as the secret weapon. Using free conference call facilities, staff can take the option of doing their job from the comfort of their own home when it suits them to do so, without it impeding on their ability to carry out their daily duties effectively.

The benefits are multiple. Personnel can spend time in a less stressful environment and achieve a more satisfactory work-life balance, while employers can offer an incentive that doesn't disrupt their operation or affect their bottom line.

If you're concerned your flock is thinking about straying, maybe the crook of flexible working could be the game-changer you're looking for.