Debate: Role design and job flexibility (MfD)

That this meeting of Congress discusses how role design and job flexibility will help the UK’s health service recruit and retain staff.

There is evidence to show that the adoption of flexible practices into nursing across the UK has been patchy, often ad hoc and reliant on the goodwill of individual managers. As 80% of nurses who work for agencies say that they do so because it gives them more control over when they work this suggests that flexible working is an important retention as well as recruitment tool.

Not all types of flexible work are suitable in all work environments, but with 100,000 job vacancies across the four countries it is time for all employers to seriously consider ways to design roles across their organisations that are flexible and carer-friendly. This needs to start from the top of the health service.

Some unions have cautioned that the adoption of flexible working practices has sometimes resulted in increased flexibility for employers, but reduced conditions and ability to control working hours
for employees.

Flexible working is most successful when it is designed with the needs of both employers and employees in mind working in partnership. The benefits for both staff and employers will include improved health and well being as well as improved job satisfaction and organisational commitment. These factors can help to reduce absenteeism and staff turnover which in turn can improve staff morale
Role design and flexible working practice options may include:

• flexible working hours/shifts
• self rostering
• part time work
• job sharing
• seasonal work
• career breaks
• purchased leave
• working from home
• phased retirement

There are other less conventional arrangements such as annualised, zero-hour or term-time contracts.

There will be limitations: contractual agreements may require multiple stakeholder input; contracts may include rules and processes to manage conflict that limit their effectiveness; there can be overhead costs; large employers may find the process too complicated to manage. But there is a strong business case for employers to do it. Employers who simply tolerate flexibility reluctantly will find that they are less likely to attract new staff, spend more on agency staff and have higher staff turnover. Employers who take steps to embrace more flexible working will benefit financially and become more effective organisations.

Main Hall
ACC Liverpool
Kings Dock
Liverpool Waterfront
L3 4FP

RCN members can watch a recording of this debate via the RCN Digital Archive.

After logging in, navigate to Royal College of Nursing Congress under 'Items of interest'.

22 May 2019 15:15 - 16:45

Main Hall, ACC Liverpool , Kings Dock , Liverpool Waterfront , Liverpool , L3 4FP

Submitted by the RCN UK Stewards' Committee

Page last updated - 18/12/2020