Employee drivers – flexible working

Why flexible working is a key driver to successful employee engagement

If your organisation is looking to measure and improve its employee engagement, there are a number of controllable factors across the employee lifecycle you should be focusing on. Our research has uncovered 10 key employee engagement drivers that will help you to gain accurate and fair understanding of your workforce when conducting employee listening.

Here, we focus on one of these key drivers: flexible working.

What is flexible working?

In a hybrid world, flexible working is about more than where your people work. True flexibility occurs when you offer your employees more control over their work schedules, location and hours of work. It can take many forms, including remote working, flexible shift patterns, compressed workweeks, job sharing, annualised hours, and flexible time off.

Why is flexible working important for employee engagement?

A recent global report found that ‘lack of flexibility or work-life balance’ was one of the top reasons employees would consider leaving their organisation within the next six months. There’s little doubt that flexible working can therefore positively impact your organisation’s retention figures.

By how does it impact employee engagement?

  1. Work-life balance
    Flexible working allows employees to have more control over their work schedules, which can lead to a better work-life balance. When employees feel like they can balance their personal and professional commitments, they’re likely to feel less stressed and more engaged with their job.
  2. Autonomy and trust
    Giving employees the ability to work flexibly shows that the employer trusts them to get the job done, regardless of when or where they work. This level of empowerment can be highly motivating for employees, who may feel more invested in their work and more connected to the organisation.
  3. Personalised work styles
    Every employee has their own preferred work style and flexible working can allow for those preferences. For example, some may be more productive working from home for specific tasks, while others may prefer working in an office environment. When employees can work in a way that suits their individual needs and preferences, they’re more likely to feel engaged and invested in their work.
  4. Reduced stress and burnout
    Flexible working can help reduce the stress and burnout that can come from a rigid work schedule. Employees who are given the flexibility to take breaks or adjust their work hours to better suit their needs are less overwhelmed and more engaged and productive.

What are the challenges for organisations?

While flexible working has many positives for the employee, it does present new challenges for the organisation.

Flexible working can hinder communication between employees and the wider organisation. It can be especially difficult when workers are deskless or remote. It makes it harder for organisations to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and that important information is shared effectively.

Flexible working can make human connection harder when teams are split over many locations or schedules. Managers may also find it challenging to supervise and manage employees who are working flexibly. Having the right technology and infrastructure in place to support communication is therefore a vital factor in making flexible working a success.

Collaboration and coordination across teams can become more challenging. Flexible schedules and locations can make it more difficult to schedule meetings, share documents and information, or work together effectively. Organisations should take this into account when putting together their flexible working policies so that their goals are still achieved, and that productivity and innovation aren’t restricted.

Culture and mindset can also be more challenging when flexibility becomes a feature of the workplace. Some employees may be resistant to change or see themselves being treated unfairly because of a colleague’s flexible working, especially if they’ve been traditionally focused on in-person or traditional work hours. To combat this, organisations need to ensure their flexible working policies are fair for all.

How can you better manage flexible working to improve engagement?

Here are our top tips for people leaders who are looking to better manage flexible working and improve employee engagement:

  1. Set clear guidelines and expectations
    People leaders should establish clear guidelines for flexible working, including expectations around availability, communication and performance. This can help ensure that employees are working effectively and remain engaged.
  2. Provide training and support
    Help your employees to navigate the challenges of flexible working. This can include specific training and development for line managers alongside more general education for all employees around effective communication, time management and collaboration. Provide access to ongoing resources and support services to help employees manage stress and maintain a good work-life balance.
  3. Build trust and accountability
    Ensure your employees feel trusted to work independently and hold them accountable for their performance. By doing this, employees are more likely to take ownership of their work and make meaningful contributions to your organisation.
  4. Encourage collaboration and social connections
    Build-in opportunities for your employees to connect, even when working remotely or on flexible schedules. This can include organising virtual team-building activities, creating the space and tools for informal communication, and building time into the working week for employees to share their experiences and connect with each other.
  5. Regularly assess and adapt your policies
    People leaders should regularly assess and adapt their flexible working policies to ensure they’re meeting the needs of the business and its employees. By implementing employee engagement surveys and analysing results against business performance, you can make meaningful adjustments as needed.

How can you track and improve employee engagement?

Flexible working is a known driver of high engagement, so it’s important to understand how satisfied employees are with their flexible working arrangements and whether any improvements can be made.


WorkBuzz offers simple, flexible, customisable surveys that allow your organisation to gain confidential insights from your employees.

We have a whole bank of questions tailored to flexible working, as well as many other key drivers of employee engagement.

If you’re looking to start implementing employee engagement surveys or are reviewing your existing survey solution, get in touch and see how the WorkBuzz platform can help. Book a demo today or drop us a message: hello@workbuzz.com

Related content:

[RESEARCH] The State of Employee Engagement 2022

[ARTICLE] Managing hybrid working: Top tips for HR teams

[ARTICLE] Making a four-day week ‘work’ for your organisation

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David Wilkinson, Human Resources DirectorPremier Foods

Lots of HR tech companies talk a good game, but turn out to be much less flexible in practice. WorkBuzz are an exception in the employee experience space.

Neil Hayward, Former HR DirectorHS2

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