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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds So, welcome to Dr. Matt Flynn from Newcastle University. Matt, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your interest in working carers? I’ve worked on older workforce issues for about 14 years now. I started off in a research centre called the Centre for Research into the Older Workforce. And it was a research centre which was set up to help employers manage ageing workforces and to look for ways to encourage their older workers to stay and work a little bit longer. And one of the ways in which they can do so is to provide some support for those who have caring responsibilities. So, Matt, can you tell us about options for flexible working that you are aware of?

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Well, a lot of organisations offer different types of flexible work. And we know that, especially when it comes to older workers and those with caring responsibilities for elderly relatives, the most frequently asked for type of flexible working is part-time work. But there are other options available for people, such as job-sharing arrangement, such as home working, such as core working hours, and so forth. Sometimes organisations have these policies. Sometimes they’re focused for people with child care responsibility. Sometimes organisations don’t have those policies, but managers would be willing to consider options which keep the employee productive, happy, motivated in work. And often it’s a case of just asking for something that might be a little bit novel to your manager.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds And there are a lot of reasons why organisations might offer flexible working beyond just being a good employer. It saves money in terms of recruitment and retention. It leads to a more motivated employee. Sometimes it saves in terms of the bottom line, because you have the employee available at times where the manager needs them the most. So there can be various reasons why your manager might not just be supportive, but might also be on board and very happy to come to a negotiated settlement.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds So one of the things that’s often discussed is how flexible working is something for big companies, but it’s not for small organisations; that a big company, like Aviva, can restructure work so that an individual can still fit within the work environment and also have some flexibility, but it’s not going to work for the small company. Well, small companies are often the ones that have the biggest skill shortages, and they’re the most desperate to keep staff who know the organisation and have the skills that the company needs. So they can find something, an arrangement, which would suit the employee. What are the key challenges for employers in meeting requests for flexible working?

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 seconds Often employers just don’t know what options are available for them. So especially a manager for the first time has somebody who’s asking for flexible working, they won’t know, first of all, what work arrangements the employee could actually use, but also how it’s going to fit within the overall organisation. So sometimes the employee has to take the lead in not only asking for a flexible work arrangement, but also to sort of map out how it would work, how they would be able to manage their workload, and how they would fit in with the overall team. So sometimes it’s giving a pitch to your manager, rather than requesting something which would be useful to you.

Skip to 3 minutes and 49 seconds But your employer can say no, but they have to have a reason for saying no. And there are some guidelines from Acas setting out the reasons for denying a request. Often, employers don’t flat out deny a request. There might be some negotiation in the process, a little bit of give and take. But a lot of research by the Department for Work and Pensions has suggested that most requests lead to an arrangement which suits both sides. Overall, there’s more of a recognition today than there was a decade ago that people can stay productive even if they have a life outside of work.

Working and caring - an employer's perspective

Flexible working may support you to find an improved balance between employment and caring. In this video, Dr Matt Flynn describes the importance of understanding your employer’s perspective and what your options are for flexible working options.

We know that it can be helpful to think about a positive business case to support the changes you would like to make to your employment terms. Ideally, your employer will be able to see how they might benefit as well as you. Suggest solutions to problems your proposed changes might raise. Try to find examples of where it has worked in a similar situation. This can involve paying attention to the following:

  • knowing your rights
  • having already considered how different options might work for you
  • having a clear sense of what you would like to achieve from any change
  • considering the impact of flexibility on your role and performance of duties
  • being aware of the benefits to your employer, e.g. loyalty, retention of skilled staff, reputation
  • benefits of being seen as a good employer.

Take a look at the resources below on how you can change your working pattern

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Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well

Newcastle University

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