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September 23, 2019

Flexible Working Hours as a Tool to Happier and More Motivated Staff

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”  , Richard Branson

Countries such as Germany, Norway, Sweden and France are in the process of revolutionising the 9-5 workday. Employers ihn these countries report that this is making their staff more productive, efficient and happy. Germany currently averages a 26.37 hour work week and offers a whopping 12 months maternal leave with an option of 24 months unpaid.

What are your thoughts on this given that the South African standard is to drive towards longer work weeks and to have women back in active employment as soon after the birth of their babies as is possible?

Research shows that employers find it easier to attract top talent with flexible working hours and a better work-life balance and that even in the face of 4IR, that the work-life balance is something that still features strongly as a retention strategy for staff. 

There are several different options and ways of considering implementation.  Whatever option is considered should be tailored to the companies’ needs. A possible starting point would be to look at your key staff and how such an initiative could positively affect their lives when presented with the option of flexible working hours. Woman who have children would most certainly benefit from this, although fathers should not be left out of this equation entriley either. Then the length of tenure and years in employment could be considered, irrespective of family demands and responsibilities.

Easing off on the strictness of requesting leave, particularly where employees have put in long hours in support of delivering particular work projects, could also create higher engagement of employees – it will show that you notice their commitment to your company and that you honour it by allowing flexibility when applying the company rules and regulations when they ask for a day or two off work to pursue hobbies, interests and to recreate themselves.   This kind of flexibility on leave arrangements could be applied slightly differently when considering the particular employee’s tenure.  For example, an employee having longer tenure could be given 2 days of gratuitous leave of absence with the understanding that they wouold have arranged with colleagues for their workload to be covered by them whereas shorter serving employees would be granted only one day’s leave of absence. 

Do not underestimate the importance of prioritisng your staff needs and letting employees know that you are a caring employer.  This will result in signficant, long term benefits to your company and an increase in customer loyalty as well.

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