The need for flexible working is ever increasing, and we recognise that offering flexible working can be one of the solutions to health and care sector recruitment and increasing retention rates. Through research and working with Leeds health and care partners we aim to make flexible working accessible where service capacity and operational demand allows.
Leeds health and care partners comprise of NHS, third and independent sector organisations, Leeds City Council and educational institutions. All differ in size, funding and the needs of people that use their services. Using existing guidelines and research we have created a suite of information and materials for line managers, to help encourage and promote the adoption of flexible working within organisations, to showcase ‘the art of possible’ and highlight the benefits of flexible working in clinical and non-clinical services across the health and care sector in Leeds.
Please note: this toolkit is based on the NHS ‘Supporting Your Team to Work Flexibly: A Line Manager’s Guide’ document which can be found here.
Leeds health and care partner survey: key findings
The key principle at the heart of getting flexible working right is finding a working pattern suitable for the organisation/service, the team and the individual.
Good flexible working arrangements should balance the needs of the individual with three key organisational factors:
In terms of exploring flexible working options, it is helpful to consider:
Flexible working is so much more than a perk for employees when correctly implemented, it can help solve a number of core business issues, including:
‘When-based’ flexibility refers to patterns in which the working day, week or year is adjusted. This includes patterns such as flexi-time, compressed hours and annualised hours.
It could include working reduced hours, such as working fewer days, shorter days, term-time only, job sharing and job splitting. Flexibility around when people work their hours is also a key enabler in terms of managing outside work interests and commitments.
Things to consider at this stage include clearly defining expectations and fixed commitments for each role, part time considerations, reducing workload and finding alternative resources.
Line managers can help individuals balance their work and personal needs by clearly defining your expectations and any fixed commitments for each role.
Key points to consider:
Job design is critical when considering any role, but particularly important to part-time working. Some roles will naturally be easier to reduce – for example by reducing the number of clinics or admin tasks – but for other roles it is important to identify how the role can be reduced, either by reducing the workload or identifying who else could do the work (finding alternative resource). It is important to ensure the same development and stretch opportunities are given to part-time workers, or those working at different times, to ensure they are not disadvantaged by not being around every day. It is also important to ensure these staff are not missing out on receiving key communication.
Many teams expect to work in a more remote or hybrid way in the future. Managing a more remote team does require more planning to ensure things work smoothly.
In some areas of health and care, it became the new normal to consider working from home. Please see below for some questions to consider to ensure you have the right approach to remote working:
Here are our top tips:
Other ways to support flexible working
While many health and care organisation roles can be done remotely or with flexible hours, working directly with service users and patients may require people to be present in specific locations at specific times. We want to encourage all managers to be open-minded when it comes to considering creative ways to allow flexibility. There may still be options for working different hours and working remotely for certain activities.
Organisations across the Leeds health and care sector are offering flexible working solutions that have been proven to benefit the service, patient/service user and the colleagues themselves. The below real-life examples from Leeds-based health and care teams and organisations demonstrate the positive impact that flexible working can create, as well as discussing the common myths and challenges surrounding flexible working, and the lessons learnt from managers who implemented flexible working patterns for their employees.
If you’d like to share how your service has implemented flexible working in Leeds, please contact us via email@example.com.
Here are seven ways that you can demonstrate successful leadership when it comes to promoting and embedding flexible working:
Lead by example. Be a role model, be open about your own flexibility and how you’re managing your wellbeing. Book out space in your own diary for family time, out-of-work activities or breaks.
Trust people to do their jobs on a flexible basis. Don’t wait for them to ‘earn’ it.
Be accessible. Let your team know they should contact you if they need support. Create spaces in your diary where they can catch up with you outside of a formal meeting.
Consciously reward and recognise people for the outcomes they are achieving – not for working additional hours or being always present. This can unconsciously reinforce certain behaviours eg ‘presenteeism’.
Consider flexible working options when you are advertising vacancies. Be clear about the types of flexibility that would work well in the role, and make it clear that conversations around flexibility are welcomed at interview stage to encourage a greater diversity of talent.
Talk to other teams about what you’re doing. Share your good practice and learn from theirs.
Drive the conversation on flexible working. Bring it up with people in health and wellbeing conversations, in one-to-ones, at end of year, and during recruitment conversations. Even if the individual doesn’t want to work flexibly right now, mentioning it proactively will say a lot about how your team works.