HC-One Flex Force Launch Heralds New Era of Flexible Working in CareHC-One has announced the launch of a new flexible working initiative, bringing enhanced flexible working arrangements to the social care workforce.

The ‘Flex Force’ initiative has been rolled out to many of HC-One’s homes in the North East and North West of England, as well as a number of their homes in Scotland in June this year. 

Colleagues on Flex Force contracts work flexibly across multiple homes in a given area, receiving guaranteed and consistent pay each month and have complete access to HC-One’s full induction, standard training and other standard benefits, including paid annual leave. 

The scheme covers Care Assistants and Nurses, with plans to recruit Senior Care Assistants in the near future, to ensure that a range of roles across the social care workforce has access to positive, practical and mutually beneficial working arrangements. By moving away from traditional shift patterns, Flex Force allows Colleagues to design their shift patterns around their studies, family life or other commitments. 

Flex Force Colleagues choose between three contracts depending on the hours that best suit them over a 12-week period. Individuals can select the shifts that best suit their lifestyle in this timeframe – meaning that some weeks they may choose not to work any hours, as long as they meet their agreed contracted total hours by the end of the 12-week period.

HC-One’s announcement follows a highly successful six-month trial period, which saw 103 Colleagues hired on Flex Force contracts, for a combined total of 17,000 hours. During this time, every participating home's agency use decreased significantly, whilst occupancy increased, thanks to the additional capacity and flexibility.

The scheme’s positive impact on staff retention and recruitment reflects the overwhelming demand for flexible working throughout the wider British workforce, with 70% of employees stating that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them. In fact, a recent study by employment charity Working Families indicated that 55% of working parents in social care would consider leaving their job if they found another which offered greater flexibility.

In addition to attracting the existing social care workforce, Flex Force also proved an effective means of accessing a new talent pool by attracting previously underrepresented demographics. The initial pilot, which was undertaken in the North East of England, saw almost equal numbers of men and women recruited (45% and 55%), against the sector average of 84% female care workers – suggesting that enhanced flexible working options can open up careers in care to a broader demographic, and tap into a new talent pool for the workforce. It also resulted in increased numbers of students and recent retirees joining the scheme.

HC-One plans to build on the successes of their pilot, rolling out to more of their 269 homes over the coming months – offering flexible working options to thousands of care professionals across the UK.

John Handley, People Director at HC-One said:
“For too long, care work has been associated with rigid shift patterns while much of the rest of the world of work has adopted more flexibility and balance. 
“We’re really pleased to be able to offer more flexibility for people who give so much to bring kindness and compassion to Residents in our care. 
“The results of HC-One’s pilot have been really encouraging in boosting staff morale across the board. We’ve also been able to grow our workforce, welcoming people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into a career in care. We are looking forward to bringing Flex Force’s combination of flexibility and security to more of our homes across the UK, before opening up Flex Force as an option in other roles.”

Seun Isiah, Care Assistant with Flex Force, said:
“Being a Care Assistant is fantastically rewarding, but it can be emotionally demanding – being able to choose flexible working patterns really helps me to have a good work life balance.
“I chose to be a Flex Force Colleague to advance my career in care by working across several different homes while still being part of the HC-One family. It has given me exposure to various diverse care needs of residents and the chance to work with a broader group of people, all while receiving consistent and guaranteed pay. This exposure to ongoing training and different care home environments has pushed my personal and professional development in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I was working through an agency.”

To read more about the initiatives HC-One has introduced to improve recruitment and retention within the care sector, please read our feature with peoplemanagement.co.uk here: How HC-One rapidly improved its employee experience (peoplemanagement.co.uk)

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