Paul Backhouse, head of personnel policy and benefits at the John Lewis Partnership: The Government recently stated that all UK employees should have the right to work flexibly unless there is a good reason not to do so. An independent review is also being undertaken into how flexible working can be more widely implemented, particularly as the UK lags so far behind its European counterparts. The recognition of the importance of flexible working should be celebrated.
Operating within the retail sector brings together a diverse workforce with very different needs.
The right to request flexible working is just one example of this approach – all John Lewis and Waitrose staff can request the opportunity to work flexibly, regardless of whether they have children or not.
Flexible working can deliver benefits to employers and employees alike. Staff are able to balance the competing commitments of work and home life, while flexible shift patterns can support the needs of the business and make for a more diverse workforce.
In addition to flexible working, the Partnership’s policies on career breaks, carer’s leave, and long leave, all enhance work-life balance and give employees the flexibility to pursue other interests and commitments outside of work.
Our leisure benefits are intended to support the happiness of Partners (employees) by enabling them to do things that perhaps they would not ordinarily do, for example, joining clubs such as the Music Society and the Surfing Club. In addition, we subsidise ‘Once in a Lifetime’ trips where clubs and societies can apply to visit places around the world to enhance the skills of their members. We also offer a ticket subsidy so that [employees] can benefit from the business by purchasing cinema and theatre tickets at reduced rates.
We place great importance on offering a diverse range of benefits which appeal to a wide group of [employees] and it is something we are committed to continuing in the future. We have seen that the Partnership’s benefit offering has led to a more motivated workforce which offers a better service, that ultimately translates into a better customer experience within our stores.
Paul Backhouse is head of personnel policy and benefits at the John Lewis Partnership