On the Hashtag

We are now over half-way through CIPD Manchester’s ‘Big Conversation about Families, Parents and the Workplace’ and lots of people have been tweeting using the #CIPDbigconvo hashtag and sharing articles. So, I decided to do a review of what has been shared.

The common theme to most of the articles shared has been flexible working.   This was one of the original topics that we set out to consider within ‘The Big Conversation’ and was also the subject of Gem Dale’s talk at the launch of ‘The Big Conversation’, so perhaps this isn’t surprising.  It was considered such an important focus, that ‘Flexible flexible working policies for all’ emerged from the launch as one of the four themes for further exploration.

Why do we need flexible working? People Management reported on research carried out by Willis Towers Watson that a third of parents feel stressed out by the challenges of combining work and their parent responsibilities.  The same piece reported on recent figures showing that 73.7% of mothers in the UK are now in employment.   But it is not only parents that can benefit from flexible working, but carers of other families members and as Simon Heath argues in his piece ‘Calling time on the inflexible’  anybody wanting to spend time doing ‘community projects; volunteering; hobbies; art; literature; sport and exercise; science and nature’ – so that is pretty much all of us!  When flexible working was discussed as part of #HRHour during ‘The Big Conversation’ participants also raised the importance of flexible working to enabling individuals to manage their own well-being.

Simon Heath also refers to the issues of increasing traffic congestion and stagnating productivity growth.  One of the shared articles focuses on the potential gains from one form of flexibility ‘working from home’ and reports on a trial conducted by Professor Nicholas Bloom into home working which identified benefits of 13.5% increase in productivity and that employees were half as likely to leave as office based staff.

In ‘The Part-time Executive Pipeline’ Stephanie Dillon argued the case for a much greater variety of roles being able to be undertaken part-time.   We need part-time work and those who work flexibly in other ways to be recognised as not having a part time commitment.

This isn’t the only way that many  workplaces of 2017 seem to have not moved on from previous generations approach to work –  a point made both by Simon Heath and also by Melinda Gates in her article ‘We’re sending our daughters into a workplace designed for our Dads’.

HR Magazine, reporting on a new benchmarking report by Working Families, identified a number of barriers to the wider introduction of flexible working including: HR proving the business case, lack of senior buy-in, lack of role modelling from the top and line management skill barriers.  This last point is something that we will be discussing further as part of the fourth theme for more detailed discussion as part of ‘The Big Conversation’.

Meanwhile Timewise UK has launched the ‘Timewise Power 50’ to celebrate both individuals and employers role modelling excellence in flexible working.  There are a number of categories, including senior leaders working part-time and nominations close on 3 November 2017.  Is there an individual or organisation you could nominate?

There is also still time to contribute to a ‘Call for Evidence’ from the UK Government on ‘Returning to work after time for caring’.  This is looking for input from carers both of children and other family member and employers and the deadline is 23 October 2017 – so just a few days to have your say!

Many thanks to all those who have shared articles via #CIPDbigconvo – keep them coming!

Rachel Burnham

CIPD Manchester Public Policy Lead


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