Flexible working


Flexible working has been a key part of our lives since the pandemic in 2019. The GM System is committed to offering flexible roles and opportunities to suit individuals and their circumstances, regardless of their background or reason.

It may not always be easy to accommodate individual requests. However, we do our best to do so because we want our people to feel valued and supported throughout their journey with us.

Flexible working is about more than just retention. It can unlock new opportunities and contribute to people’s mental health, wellbeing and engagement with their role, and we know that in the NHS more engaged staff leads to better patient care.

Flexible working can contribute towards boosting employees’ health and wellbeing which, in turn, may improve performance and productivity. Increased morale and retention levels are more likely to reduce employee turnover and shortages.

As part of the NHS People Plan, the NHS People Promise sets out a series of commitments, which includes working flexibly: ‘We do not have to sacrifice our family, our friends or our interests for work.

This ambition is to give people greater choice over their working patterns, helping them to achieve a better work-life balance. To ensure the NHS remains an employer of choice and can attract talent in a competitive job market, more action is needed to increase the uptake of flexible working.

How to enhance flexible working

There are several things you can do right now to enhance the approach to flexible working in your organisation. 

Agree a flexible working definition for your organisation

The guidance Flexible working: raising the standards for the NHS sets a flexible working definition and set of principles. The definition supports a shared understanding of what flexible working means and the principles guide the ethos and values we want the NHS to aspire to when it comes to flexible working.

The NHS Employers guidelines for managers around flexible working set out what flexible working is and is not; how to respond to flexible working requests; advertising roles to promote flexible working patterns; and what to consider in leading a flexible workforce.

Create a flexible working policy for your organisation

Agree a flexible working policy and ensure it is in line with the NHS NHS Flexible working definition and principles and NHS Terms and Conditions Handbook

Help staff to make requests about flexible working

The NHS England publication Flexible working toolkit for individuals can help prepare staff for positive conversations to make requests about flexible working and provide staff with the best chance of agreeing a solution that works for them, their teams and their organisations.

Encourage staff to join the NHS Flexible Working Network

The NHS Flexible Working Network is aimed at those working in the NHS with an interest or curiosity about flexible working. The network brings discussion and insight to its members on a quarterly basis. Contact weworkflexibly@nhs.net to join. If you’re working in the NHS, you can also access the network’s NHS Futures page to find, share and explore further information and conversations about flexible working in the NHS

Promote a flexible workplace for all

The Flexible working toolkit for line managers offers support in how to lead a flexible team, helping managers to put structures and processes in place to support and encourage flexible workplace for all.

Review the flexibility of your organisation’s roles

Explore how many of your organisation’s roles are currently advertised as flexible. There are options on NHS Jobs and TRAC to clearly identify how a role might be carried out flexibly making it easier for potential applicants to identify what flexible opportunities are available.

Understand staff satisfaction about opportunities for flexible working

Analyse your organisation data from the NHS staff survey which includes a question that specifically talks about satisfaction for opportunities for flexible working (pre-2021 Q5h, now Q4d). How do your staff feel about this? Are there particular groups of staff who are more, or less, satisfied? Has this improved over time? Other questions post-2021 that pertain to flexible working in your organisation are Q6b, Q6c and Q6d. 

Understand the costs associated with flexible working and retention

The flexible working cost calculator can be used to help organisations identify potential cost savings and measure return on investment from any retention initiative by calculating savings based on the additional costs to the organisation from bank and agency costs, and from recruitment costs when staff leave.

Useful links and resources