Sports Direct, Job Security and Flexible Working: A Recipe for Employee Satisfaction? 

There’s no fool-proof formula for creating a perfect workplace, but job security is a pretty good place to start.

A recent report on working conditions in Sports Direct shops and warehouses revealed that employees had been subjected to a range of unfair practices – in some cases, earning less than minimum wage, as well as a lack of job security due to the enforcement of zero-hours contracts.

As a result of the findings, the retail giant announced that they will no longer operate zero-hours contracts in their stores. Instead, more than 18,000 casual staff members will be offered fixed contracts of at least 12 hours per week.

While they still have a number of challenges to overcome, Sports Direct’s decision signifies a move forward for positive change in the workplace and improved employee-employer relations. This has raised the question – how can other employers can improve conditions in the workplace, after taking care of the basics?

Flexible working and the modern workplace

modern workplace

In addition to feeling secure in their role, 77% of workers agree that flexible makes a job more appealing, with a significant 55% stating it is be a ‘crucial’ aspect in determining their next career move, according to a recent survey conducted by Powwownow.

‘Flexible working’ is an umbrella term that defines a variety of ways that employees can enjoy a better work-life balance, including:

Remote working: Working from home or another out-of-office location, such as a coffee shop
Job sharing: Responsibilities of a role are split between two people
Compressed hours: Allowing employees to work longer hours and fewer days
Annualised hours: A certain number of hours are spread flexibly throughout the year
Staggered hours: Staff members work the same number of hours but can have start and end times that better suit their lifestyle
Flexitime: Employees must work ‘core hours’ but can take advantage of flexible start and finish times when necessary

All employees who have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working.

The benefits of flexible working

flexible working

Flexible working is becoming an option for more employment sectors, and there has been a rise in the number of employers that offer it as an option (61%). These results are mainly based on office work, which is far different from the types of work undertaken by Sports Direct’s retail and warehouse staff.

However, manual and service roles can still benefit from certain types of flexible working – such as compressed hours and job sharing – and 53% of employers say they believe all industries should make it an option for their workers. But why?

Some of the benefits of flexible working employees say they enjoy are:

  • A better work-life balance
  • Increased productivity (82% of employees say they get more work done when working flexibly)
  • A less stressful commute
  • More flexibility for personal needs
  • Greater job satisfaction

Many employers agree flexible working improves the workplace by:

  • Boosting morale (70% of employers agreed that staff were happier in their role)
  • Increased productivity (58% noted that flexibility resulted in better performance)
  • A more relaxed and pleasant office atmosphere
  • Lowered costs and overall emissions
  • Better overall organisation and communication

As Sports Direct’s recent employment policy changes have revealed, being sensitive and fair to worker’s needs is crucial in establishing positive workplace environment. While job security is a vital aspect in laying this foundation, for many businesses, providing the option to work flexibly is the next step in creating a modern workplace where employees can thrive.

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