Employers launch flexible working forum

Twenty-two employers, including BT Group, B&Q, Ford, ITV and Lloyds Banking Group, have joined forces to launch the Agile Future Forum (AFF), which aims to develop practical support to increase flexible working practices across the UK.

As part of its launch, the AFF has published a report, Understanding the economic benefits of workforce agility, which found that workforce agility has enabled UK employers to enjoy benefits equivalent to between 3% and 13%of workforce costs. It also identified scope to increase cost savings by a further 3-7% and, in some cases, up to 11%.

The report identifies how traditional models of work are coming under pressure, and that new agile models of work will be needed to deal with the challenges and opportunities created by technology, changing customer demands, globalisation and demographic shifts.

In addition to the report, the AFF has developed a range of practical support that enables organisations to consider workforce agility.

Win Bischoff, chairman of Lloyds Banking Group and chair of the AFF, said: “Creating agile workforces has helped AFF companies to compete in the global market. We believe agile working practices could help other UK businesses too.

“I believe the economic benefits outlined in our report demonstrate that it is possible to develop a way of operating that is valuable for businesses, employees and customers, and ultimately the UK economy.”

Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, added: “The Coalition government believes that a more flexible approach to working practices can deliver real benefits for business, the economy and families.

“The leadership being shown by the Agile Future Forum on flexible working practices is an important input for helping British business to be competitive in the global market place.

“From 2015, the government will introduce an entirely new system of shared parental leave. And working families will also get £1,200 of free childcare a year for every child under the age of 12.

“This report and the AFF’s work with employers proves that the Coalition government’s policy is right: more flexible working benefits business, the economy and families.”

Jo Swinson, employment relations minister, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis), said: “We know that flexible working is good for business. It can boost motivation and productivity of staff and ultimately help support growth of our economy. This report by the Agile Future Forum provides clear evidence to show this.

“I welcome organisations taking the lead on this issue and demonstrating to other business how valuable flexibility can be. Sharing best practice is important in making sure that flexible working becomes the norm.

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“Flexible working is a key part of the government’s commitment to overhaul rigid working arrangements and bring workplaces into the 21st century.”

According to Swinson, giving employees and employers the chance to plan their working patterns leads to a more engaged workforce and reduces turnover of staff, which will help business grow and in turn support a stronger economy.