alternatives to childcare vouchers, flexible woking

The Benefits of Flexible Working

Childcare voucher alternative, tax-free childcare alternative

The benefits of flexible working

Employers and employees alike have become increasingly aware of flexible work options. The benefits of flexible working are easy to see and now every employee has the right to request flexible working arrangements, and every employer has a responsibility to reasonably consider the application.

It’s about time.

For too long the working model has been stuck in an old-fashioned framework that no longer serves the majority. Since the dawn of the internet, and advances in technology, flexible working hours have become evermore possible and popular.

We’ve taken on the research and covered the different types of flexible working in our post Top 10 Flexible Working Arrangements, if you would like to know more about flexible work choices.

Flexible jobs offer a befitting model of employment that can better serve organisations and their employees. Here are the best working benefits to enjoy:

  • Better Relationships
    Greater trust developed between companies and staff. Employees feel empowered and respected. Workers can take ownership of their work-life schedule, which positively fuels mental wellbeing and a much sought after entrepreneurial spirit.
    Companies can also increase the likelihood of attracting top-notch candidates for their team with a reputation as a family-friendly organisation.
  • Productivity
    Flexible workers are productive. Employees with a flexible work schedule are more likely to work at their optimum time of day and make the most of their time. Morale and engagement can be enhanced, whilst simultaneously reducing stress. All of which equates to increased productivity.
  • Reduced Costs
    A happy workforce ensures increased commitment. Staff turnover can significantly reduce. With the minimum recruitment cost standing at £7,400, this is not to be overlooked. In addition, a flexible work policy can reduce company overheads if staff work remotely.
    Likewise, employees can benefit from reduced commuter expenses by travelling at off-peak times, or avoid the commute and expense altogether by working from home.
  • Time
    With better commute options and the potential to choose how working hours are spent, workers have more time to care for family, supporting overall wellbeing.
    More time also gives workers a chance to explore hobbies and pursue further education if they wish. All of which can complement their work roles, profiting their careers and the organisation they’re apart of.
    Furthermore, companies that accommodate flexible work schedules can extend their hours of operation and increase profitability.

Just the first step

Childcare voucher alternative, tax-free childcare alternative, flexible working benefits

The pros of working flexibly are obvious. Flexible working is a great solution to the heavy commitments people have to juggle; childcare, elderly relative care, and earning a wage in a climate of ever-increasing costs.

But it’s only one half of the equation.

Flexible working options cannot standalone. Other culture shifts need to occur in tandem. To create a thriving work culture we need flexible working options and flexible childcare support.
There’s not enough support for parents who want to remain in the workforce. This isn’t acceptable.

Childcare costs are at an all-time high with part-time childcare costs reaching £9,000 in London for a child under 2 years of age. Being a working parent has become unaffordable.  Add in the stress of finding a childcare provider you can trust, and arranging care to fit around your working hours, the problems surmount.

Consequently, many parents decide not to return to work. A staggering 870,000 mums want to work but can’t – because there aren’t enough flexible childcare options.

Employers need to be doing more than ‘Keep In Touch’ days to encourage their valued staff to return after parental leave. There must be a demand for better choices such as wrap-around childcare support.

Childcare voucher alternative, tax-free childcare alternative, flexible working benefits

But companies feel caught between a rock and a hard place since the government’s childcare voucher scheme closed in October 2018. The new tax-free childcare scheme introduced as a replacement in 2017, omits employers involvement altogether. Disabling companies that would otherwise encourage and provide an employee-benefit for working parents. Significantly, the tax-free childcare scheme has had a very poor uptake, likely due to a lack of awareness and an over-complicated system.

Previously, companies were proud to share their family-friendly position by advertising the childcare voucher scheme as part of their employee benefits. It was easily and readily available for working parents to opt-in.
Since the new scheme removes employers involvement, little marketing has been done to inform working parents of the latest alternative.

HMRC reports just 5% of families with children 5 and over have signed up to the tax-free childcare scheme, resulting in millions of pounds being returned to the treasury.  Money that should rightfully be in the pockets of working parents to fund childcare costs.

There are so many great benefits of flexible work arrangements. But until a more inclusive childcare scheme is introduced, there will not be the culture shift that so many need in order to achieve the perfect work-life balance.

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