As Amazon continues its rollout of highly flexible work contracts, why should your business follow suit?
Lots of organisations offer some level of flexible working. A bit of hybrid here. A dash of flexitime there. In many organisations, however, that flexibility exists on an ad hoc basis. Where flexibility has been written into contracts, it’s not always been especially flexible. Until now.
Over recent weeks, Amazon has continued the rollout of new contracts that offer impressively high levels of flexibility. Following a successful trial, the contracts on offer now include term-time working for parents of school-age children (including a full six weeks in summer), or a choice of preferred shifts (night/day/part day/weekends) working a minimum of 80 hours per month.
Marianna Desai, regional operations director for Amazon UK, said: “We’ve listened to our employees’ views on flexible working and I’m really proud that we’ve introduced new and innovative options based on their feedback. Both of these contracts put a really important emphasis on work-life balance and I’m certain they’re going to make a positive difference for many of our people.”
Why choose flexible work contracts?
Amazon isn’t the first major employer to offer term-time working. Nor is it the only employer to put work/life balance front and centre of its employment contracts. But there’s no denying that the combined package, coming on top of its four-day working week commitment for fulfilment centre staff, is a shift in the scale of contract flexibility now on offer.
Inevitably, other organisations will be looking on to see the impact of the move. So why should your organisation consider offering a greater range of flexibility in the contracts you offer?
The more flexible your contracts, the wider you can cast your recruitment net. Offering term-time working or a ‘pick and mix’ approach to shift work enables you to appear on the radar of potentially excellent candidates who may not be able to commit to a regular 9-5 role.
Give workers the freedom to select the shifts they want to work and you not only create happier workers; you also make it easier for them to manage their life outside of work, removing the mental and physical barriers to productivity. Both elements make it easier for your people to give their work the focus it needs.
Give greater flexibility to the people on your payroll and you give them greater control over their lives. You help them work at a time that works best for them. You help reduce stress and the risk of burnout. All of which supports employee wellbeing, which in turn reduces absenteeism and boosts morale.
Managing flexible work contracts in an SME
“It’s all very well for Amazon,” you might think. As an employer of enormous scale and vast resources, it has the scope to absorb employee contract preferences. Things are considerably tougher to manage for an SME with just a few dozen people on the payroll – but they’re not impossible.
Your people already have a right to request flexible working, of course. The question is to what extent you can agree to those requests. Given the benefits identified above, it’s worth approaching the issue of flexible contracts from the angle of ‘how can we make this work?’.
You might be able to offer term-time working if you can bring in a temp. You might be able to condense hours into fewer days to offer a 4-day working week (especially as there’s nothing to say the ‘day off’ has to be a Friday). You might be able to offer some home working or meet two people’s contractual preferences by effectively viewing them as a job share.
Offering more flexibility in your employee contracts may be easier than you think. For help in making that newfound flexibility part of your payroll, talk to us.