published on
July 14, 2023

How to improve staff retention by making shifts more flexible

Jeanne Loganbill
posted on
Care organisations
How to improve staff retention by making shifts more flexible

Flexible work arrangements aren’t just for office-based employees. Staggered hours, job sharing, term-time shifts and other types of flexwork can help care professionals gain a better work-life balance, too. 

Because flexible working practices help people stay in work, increase retention and reduce hiring spend, you also benefit as a care home manager.

If you’re a care home manager looking for flexwork ideas, you’re in the right place. In this blog, we’ll explain what flexible working is, how it can help you retain talent and which types of flexible work make sense in a care environment.

What is flexible working?

In simple terms, flexible working is when an employer lets an employee decide how and when they work. In a care environment, this means letting a nurse, care assistant, support worker, care manager or other team member work hours that suit them better (in some cases, from home).

Flexible work: the law

The right to request flexwork isn’t an optional perk – it’s the law. The Employment Rights Act 1996 gave people the right to request flexible working arrangements as long as they had at least 26 weeks' continuous service with their employers. Later, the Work and Families Act 2006 and the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 made flexwork easier to access.

It’s important to note that people don’t have to be parents or caregivers to request flexible working arrangements: they simply have to be employed by you for 26 weeks or more. In the future, the right to ask for a flexwork could become available to employees from day one at a new job.

What are my duties as an employer?

As an employer, you have to make sure that the nurses, care assistants and support workers you employ know:

  • About the right to ask for flexible work arrangements after 26 weeks’ continuous employment with you.
  • What type of flexible working options might be open to them.
  • How to make an application for flexwork, and what to include.
  • How you’ll decide if they can work flexibly.

If a member of your team submits a flexible working request, speak with them about it as soon as possible, and make a written decision within three months.

Do employers have to agree to flexible work arrangements?

You don’t have to grant a flexible work request, but if you don’t let an employee work flexible hours, they might file a discrimination claim. Where requests are reasonable, it’s sensible to grant them; when they’re not, provide clear reasons why you can’t make flexible changes and offer alternatives.

Flexible work and staff retention

People love flexible working arrangements because they make life easier. 

In one post-pandemic study, 76% of employees said they prefer to work flexible hours – and 92% of young people who took part in a recent government consultation said they wanted to control when and where they worked.

Nearly a quarter of care professionals are now over 55, so they’ll gradually retire over the next 10 years. With that in mind, it’s really important to create jobs that appeal to younger people – especially in the social care sector.

Here’s why flexible working arrangements helps drive retention:

  • Employees feel happier, so they stay with you for longer.
  • Flexible workers can manage disabilities and long-term conditions more easily.
  • Parents and caregivers feel less stressed, so they stay loyal to their employers.

Care professionals who feel engaged also tend to be more productive, so they perform 20% better on shift, improving quality of care at your organisation. 

Tip: according to research, only 11% of job ads mention flexible work options. If you have an open role, consider offering flexwork from day one – and making it part of the job description. 

Types of flexible work

Some flexible arrangements, like working from home, don’t work well in care settings. After all, care professionals generally work hands-on with patients and residents.

On the other hand, condensed hours and job sharing can make life easier for nurses, care assistants and support workers. Here are a few more flexible work options for care teams…

Part-time work

Employees work fewer hours than full-time team members, usually on a regular schedule that adds up to less than a standard 40-hour week.

Condensed hours

Care professionals work full-time hours over fewer days – for example four longer days instead of five shorter ones.

Job sharing

Two or more employees share the one full-time position, splitting the workload and working hours between them.

Term-time work

Parents and caregivers work during term time only, so they’re free to take care of children during the school holidays.

Annualised hours

Employees work a set number of hours in a year, which they can schedule around other commitments.

Hybrid working

Care professionals attend meetings and other events virtually, and work in person with patients and residents.


Team members begin and end their shifts within certain core daily hours, so they can work around other commitments.

Flexible work with Florence

Florence can help you make flexwork a reality for permanent employees. Simply use Florence to schedule staff, then fill shift gaps with our pool of 90,000+ experienced nurses, care assistants and support workers.

Our clear fee structure makes it easy to stick to your staffing budget – and by using us to enable flexible shifts, you could retain your talented team for longer.

Interested? Learn more about the benefits of working with Florence here.

Making flexible shifts work for you

Flexible working isn’t just a “nice to have” – it’s an essential part of retention strategy in any modern care organisation. 

Some kinds of flexwork, like condensed hours and job sharing, are more practical in care settings than others – but offering flexible shifts can improve morale, make life easier for people and make staff more productive. In short, it’s a win-win for you and your talented team.

Join hundreds of care homes and use Florence to fill rota gaps with staff you trust, from your own team and our 90,000+ qualified care professionals. Click here to book a demo today.

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