Offering flexible working options in wholesale can boost productivity and improve customer service, according to a new Timewise report commissioned by the FWD.
Research found that providing greater flexibility about when and where staff work would boost the motivation and productivity of team members.
Older people and women were also more likely to remain in their posts if the wholesaler offered less rigid hours, with the savings in retaining existing staff likely to outweigh the costs of any extra administration of flexible working.
Flexible working consultancy Timewise also found that offering staff greater flexibility in when and where they work would help the wholesale sector attract talented people from all walks of life.
FWD members Booker, Blakemore, Bestway, Bidfood and JJ Foodservice all contributed to the study.
The majority of wholesalers said that they had taken a reactive approach to flexible working, only considering it when asked by an employee.
Barriers to flexible working included a culture of staying late, association of working long hours with effectiveness, and the concern that introducing flexible working options would lead to a barrage of requests from other employees.
“Our members have recognised that flexible working increases the talent pool, balances gender and age equality, and reduces recruitment costs,” said FWD Chief Executive James Bielby.
“It improves the wholesaler’s brand, attracts better people and improves productivity, loyalty, and customer service.”
Timewise concluded that wholesalers should create an internal steering group to examine flexible working within their organisation, introduce senior level ambassadors and champions of flexible working, and share examples of how the policy has benefitted the business and employees.
“To make a sustainable long-term change, take a deeper dive into your overall talent management strategies for the long term and implement a job redesign programme,” added the report.
Timewise director of research and consultancy Dr Charlotte Gascoigne said: “Our investigation to date has shown that UK wholesale distributors recognise the need to make changes in order to attract and retain talent, and we look forward to helping them to design flexible and part-time roles for managers.”