Alan Thomas, head of reward, recognition, policy and employee relations at Vodafone UK: Flexible working remains undervalued in the UK

As a company with over 10,000 staff, Vodafone’s employees’ individual requirements and responsibilities vary enormously, says Alan Thomas, Vodafone UK. It is therefore important for us to ensure that employees can achieve a balance to enable them to meet the demands of their job, suit their lifestyle and meet business needs.

However, it seems that despite the column inches devoted to the importance of work-life balance, new research from the Vodafone Working Nation series suggests Vodafone is ahead of the curve when it comes to the issue of taking flexible working seriously. Findings from the Vodafone Working Nation 2007 report, which collates results from 600 UK employers and 1,500 UK employees, confirm workforce quality will be at the core of future business success, with 80% of employers believing that attracting and retaining the best people will be crucial to future success, and 66% of employees sharing this view.

Worryingly, however, fewer than 30% of polled employers believe recognising and managing employees’ work-life balance will be critical to future success, whereas almost two-thirds of employees see this as central.

At Vodafone, to support a better work-life balance, we encourage flexible working wherever this is a practical option and, as a consequence, nearly 25% of our employees work flexibly, part-time or from home.

We appreciate everyone has a different lifestyle and individual needs, and to demonstrate passion for our people we must recognise and positively integrate these differences. Therefore, we are committed to supporting and enabling flexible working arrangements, which are consistent with our vision and aims, the achievement of business goals, and are appropriate for operational functionality. All permanent UK-based employees may apply to their line manager to request flexible working such as mobile working or staggered hours.

We believe a working culture that suits our staff provides a positive employee experience, leading to increased motivation and commitment from our people. We also think this enables staff to reach their true potential to serve our customers to the best of their ability, both internally and externally, impacting positively on our bottom line.

Alan Thomas, head of reward, recognition, policy and employee relations at Vodafone UK