Companies shouldn’t be put off hiring staff who need flexible working patterns because their child is talented at sport, says recruitment expert Janette Withey.
Janette, who is the founder and managing director of Quay People in London’s Docklands, cites the example of an employee whose son is one of the country’s best ice hockey players.
“Being a flexible and accommodating employer can be a ‘win-win’ for both parties – the employee will really appreciate being able to support their child and, in return, you will get loyalty from them,” explains Janette.
Deborah Downing has been employed for the past 11 years. She says that without flexible working and an understanding employer she wouldn’t have been able to give her son the support that has helped him win a place in the England ice hockey team under 15s.
Deborah starts work at 9:30 and finishes at 3:30pm which allows her to take her 15-year-old son Sebastian to the station to get the train to school and collect him at the end of the day. Working from Monday to Thursday also helps Deborah prepare for her son’s weekend training sessions and tournaments – and recover from the week-night, late-night training sessions. “Sebastian has training from 8:30pm to 10:30pm twice a week and twice a month has a training session that starts at midnight. Weekends are often spent travelling to tournaments around the country so having Friday off gives me time to prepare. If I hadn’t been working for a flexible employer, I’m sure Sebastian would not have reached the level he has,” Deborah explains.
Deborah says the fact that her employer is so understanding and flexible drives her to work very hard and fast and means she has become extremely loyal and is highly motivated.
Janette feels strongly that it is important to try to find solutions for staff who have unusual commitments like Deborah and also having seen Sebastian develop over the years has given Janette understanding of work/life balance.
“You need to see things from both sides and what is going to get the best out of people. It’s also important to think about staff retention – allowing flexibility means staff are less likely to leave,” Janette says.