13 August 2015,


MORE than a third of Australian employers believe that offering staff flexible work arrangements is the best way to prevent them looking for a new job, according to Employsure.

A survey conducted by the workplace relations specialist shows work-life balance tops the list for staff retention, followed by pay rises and training.

Employsure managing director Edward Mallett says employers must prioritise flexible work arrangements to save resources and avoid replacing people.

"Our research clearly shows that staff often need to organise working hours around family commitments and they appreciate the opportunity to do so," Mallett says.

"This is seen as more compelling for staff retention than remuneration, training and often costly enticements such as staff events."

Mallett says the results are timely, considering Accenture statistics show one in five employed Australians are searching for new work at any given time. While a study released by Robert Walters found four in 10 professionals turn down jobs without flexibility.

"Costs can add up with recruitment advertising, and there's so much time invested to hire and train new employees. If it's a sudden departure, other staff need to step in for their colleague, compromising their own workload," he says.

"Considering our new research, employers should approach requests for flexible working arrangements with an open mind.

"Addressing this real-world issue will help managers retain staff and make their workplace more desirable to new recruits."

He says permanent employees are entitled to apply for flexible working arrangements if they have been with the company for 12 months and are the parent or primary carer for school-aged or younger children, are a carer, have a disability, are 55 or older, are experiencing domestic violence or provide support to a victim of domestic violence in their household.

Requests can only be denied if it impacts the company, other staff or any equipment needed to complete the task away from the workplace.

Mallett's top tips for retaining staff:

  • If you agree to a request for flexible working hours, be clear the arrangement is subject to review if conditions within the business change. Regularly review how the employee and business are faring with the arrangement in place.
  • It's important to balance the needs of the employer and employee with flexible arrangements. If an employer cannot accommodate a request, they should have a proactive discussion with the staff member to find a compromise that works for both parties.
  • Remuneration is an essential tool in holding onto staff. Let employees know when pay rises will occur and be sure they understand bonus structures. Implement a clear framework to assess performance and communicate this clearly.
  • Autonomy is key to staff retention employees want to feel in control of the work they are performing and have a voice in how they perform their work. Include staff in problem solving and give them the opportunity to develop creative solutions to problems or issues the business is facing.
  • Offer training where appropriate but, if staff attend off-site courses, have an agreement in place that states payment for training is effectively a loan. This should be paid back by the employee if they leave the company within a certain time after the course is completed.







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