People Matters: Service Delivery Through Flexible Working

We Can Flex

Flexible Working success at People Matters

People Matters


People Matters is a charitable incorporated organisation that is committed to improving the lives of people who experience disadvantage, especially through learning and other disabilities. People Matters provides a range of services from employment support and social groups to 1-1 support and health and wellbeing groups. The 1-1 service provides outreach support to over 70 members via 35 support workers (19.5 full time equivalents).



People Matters offer part time contracts to all support workers (between approx. 15 – 30 hours) and within each of these contracts there are some allowances made for a flexible working pattern.  The needs of the members, wider business/service and individual are all met through a position of trying to make all flexible working requests achievable. 

Myths Challenges


Staffing a service over a large area across Leeds is a challenge. It’s also challenging to replace staff, particularly those who manage services, as the culture, and how important flexible working is to People Matters takes time to fully appreciate and deliver. Flexible working also gives people a reason to want to work for the organisation. This is particularly important when, as a sector, the pay rates are sometimes lower than others, e.g. retail.



The organisation’s first response is to say yes to flexible working requests. To be able to match their members with the correct support, all staff, including those who are office-based, have a one-page profile that highlights their interests, their background and interesting facts about themselves.


The retention rates at People Matters are higher than the sector average, and they have a lot of staff that have worked for the organisation for a long time who change their working patterns as their personal circumstances change. For example, there are a number of staff members who study whilst working, and have had periods of working more or less hours depending on their personal commitments. People Matters retention figures were lower before COVID. In a recent survey, the organisation’s workforce reported that cost-of-living pressures were affecting 70% of the workforce; this is something that People Matters is looking to try to support in the future.

Lessons learned

People Matters have been enabling their staff to work flexibly for a number of years. For example, in office-based roles people do not have to book time off if they are not at work due to a doctor’s appointment, as you are judged on the outcomes you achieve and not on the amount of time you spend in the office!

‘As managers, it is really important to set an example to staff that everyone can work flexibly. I personally take time out in the day sometimes to take the dog for a walk, and work on an evening. We want people to feel trusted at People Matters, as ultimately a happier workforce enables us to deliver a better service to our members.’

Elissa Matley, People Matters, Chief Executive.