Employer Stories:

Arnold Clark Automobiles

Car retailer Arnold Clark Automobiles has introduced additional paid leave for staff who can’t work from home. Workers can take up to 3 hours off a day for any reason and 85% of requests are approved.

Arnold Clark Logo
Arnold Clark Logo

Employer Stories:

Arnold Clark Automobiles

Car retailer Arnold Clark Automobiles has introduced additional paid leave for staff who can’t work from home. Workers can take up to 3 hours off a day for any reason and 85% of requests are approved.

Key takeaways

  • Hybrid working is available for almost all office-based staff, and flexible paid leave for people who cannot work from home.
  • All 11,000 employees have access to some form of flexible working
  • 85% of requests for flexible paid leave approved
  • Employees are able to do the things that matter to them outside work, while managers say the system is fairer and more transparent for helping people take time off when they need it

Key takeaways

  • Hybrid working is available for almost all office-based staff, and flexible paid leave for people who cannot work from home.
  • All 11,000 employees have access to some form of flexible working
  • 85% of requests for flexible paid leave approved
  • Employees are able to do the things that matter to them outside work, while managers say the system is fairer and more transparent for helping people take time off when they need it

What kind of organisation are you?

As Europe’s largest privately owned car retailer, Arnold Clark employs over 11,000 people and generates more than £3billion in turnover each year from sales, servicing and repairs and renting or leasing vehicles.

What motivated you as an organisation to start your flexible working journey?

We are a growing business and wanted to move away from the motor trade stereotype of being mainly for heterosexual, white men. Our customer base is 43% women, yet at the time our workforce was only 25% female. We wanted our employees to better represent our customers and communities.

How and when did you start introducing flex/more flex?

Pre-pandemic we’d already introduced many forms of flexible working including flexitime, 4 on/4 off shift patterns, compressed hours and an industry leading 5-day week for product consultants (6-day weeks have been standard in the motor trade) and these were helping us recruit more diverse members of staff.

But during the pandemic many of our flexible ways of working couldn’t operate because of Government restrictions and issues with staff rotas.

To help us understand exactly what our employees wanted and needed, we held focus groups and consulted with employees across all parts of the organisation. We discussed with managers how we could give every employee access to a flexible working arrangement.

Flex today – what are you doing right now?

We now also offer:

  • Hybrid: Almost all office-based employees can split their working days between home and a branch/office location – currently over 750 employees work hybrid.
  • Flexible on premise: employees who need to work on site, such as a technician in a workshop, can request periods of paid, flexible leave of up to 3 hours per day with no restrictions on the number of requests they can make, or the reason for the request (medical appointments, parent-teacher evenings, school-runs, celebration meals, and hairdresser appointments are all equally acceptable and just a few examples). Currently over 10,000 employees work this way.

This is in addition to formal arrangements, such as part-time or compressed hours that staff can request, and these have been available as a ‘day one right’ long before the UK’s new law on flexible working made it mandatory in April 2024. We’ve also removed the statutory cap on the number of flexible working requests employees can make in a 12-month period.

All our 11,000 employees have access to some kind of flexibility.

What challenges have you faced?

For the ‘flexible on premise’ approach, we needed some of our managers to adjust their mindsets around what could be accommodated. We’re achieving this by regular coaching and support, and we’re seeing requests approved or declined based on whether the request impacts the needs of the business rather than any other subjective factors. The outcome is a more fair and transparent process for all.

Impact of flexible working

In the first year our ‘flexible on premise’ approach was available, we received more than 33,500 requests for this type of leave, and 85% were approved. This shows how much people wanted and used the leave.

Feedback from managers has also been very positive and encouraging. It has empowered them to respond to requests in a fair and transparent way.

The future of flex in your organisation

We recognise that flexible working is essential to keep encouraging more women into our business, and become more diverse and inclusive.

Our people are our greatest asset, and we want to create a culture in which people choose to work and dedicate themselves to the organisation’s success. We know they want and need flexibility and it’s in our interests to help them get it wherever we can.

We will continually review our flexible approaches to ensure they work for employees and the business. The implementation of the new approaches has paved the way for a more flexible culture within our business, and this will take time to bed in. To help ensure this happens, we continually coach managers about their role in supporting colleagues work flexibly.

Top tips for flex

  • Consult with your employees on what type of flexibility they need and how this would work from a practical point of view. The reason we’ve been able to implement our new approach so successfully is because we made sure we spoke to all relevant stakeholders and considered their needs.
  • Regularly review and obtain feedback – from all stakeholders – to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
  • Be prepared for some resistance to change. Education for everyone on the business case for flexibility is an ongoing message that needs to be delivered.

“Our aim has never been to tick boxes, but to generate a better working environment for our employees and, in turn, our customers.”

Do you need support with flexible working?

Consultancy

Go Flex - Flexibility Works

  • Go Flex – Our programme to help you create the flex culture you want. Includes working closely with senior leaders and staff teams, and creating a plan people buy into and that you can follow.
  • Bespoke consultancy – We draw on our vast experience to deliver highly tailored change management support including creating flex for frontline roles, trialling new ways of working, leveraging flex in recruitment and measuring impact.
  • Flexible working policy review – The UK’s law on flexible working changed in April 2024, we’ll help make sure your flexible working policy is up to date.

View all consultancy services

Our Training & Workshops Training - Flexibility Works

  • Flex for line managers half-day workshop – A fast and practical way to support your managers in leading flexible teams effectively, including how to handle flex requests that feel tricky to support, and workers who don’t want to come to the office.
  • Half-day workshop for hybrid teams – Free interactive workshop to boost wellbeing and productivity in hybrid teams.
  • Bespoke training and workshops – Tailored content for your organisation’s specific needs. Always interactive. Can stand-alone or slot into a team day or event.
  • 6 module hybrid training – For managers or whole teams, includes how to communicate and collaborate in a hybrid environment, how to motivate staff and ensure wellbeing.
  • Career returners workshop – For people who’d like to return to work after a career break. We cover workers’ rights around flex, varieties of flex and how to ask for it.

View all training and workshops

Flexible Working Accreditation

Policy Review - Flexibility WorksWe’re developing Scotland’s first good practice standard for flexible working that will provide a supportive framework for employers to increase their flexible offer and showcase their flexible culture.

Learn more now

  •  

Free Resources

Free Flexible Working Resources - Flexibility Works

  • Business case for flex (coming soon) – The hard data you need to convince yourself, or someone else, that flex is good for business
  • Case studies – Stories from employers and workers on how flex works for them.
  • Flexible working for managers and individuals - Our essential guide to all things flex.
  • Working well as a hybrid team (coming soon) – Our series of short videos for teams and/or managers will help hybrid teams work effectively and promote wellbeing.
  • Hybrid working for managers – Our practical guide for managers on how to approach hybrid and manage hybrid teams successfully.
  •  

View all free resources

Testimonials

Testimonials - Flexibility WorksRead testimonials from the businesses and organisations we've supported with flexible working.

Consultancy

  • Go Flex – Our programme to help you create the flex culture you want. Includes working closely with senior leaders and staff teams, and creating a plan people buy into and that you can follow.
  • Bespoke consultancy – We draw on our vast experience to deliver highly tailored change management support including creating flex for frontline roles, trialling new ways of working, leveraging flex in recruitment and measuring impact.
  • Flexible working policy review – The UK’s law on flexible working changed in April 2024, we’ll help make sure your flexible working policy is up to date.

View all consultancy services

Our Training & Workshops

  • Flex for line managers half-day workshop – A fast and practical way to support your managers in leading flexible teams effectively, including how to handle flex requests that feel tricky to support, and workers who don’t want to come to the office.
  • Half-day workshop for hybrid teams – Free interactive workshop to boost wellbeing and productivity in hybrid teams.
  • Bespoke training and workshops – Tailored content for your organisation’s specific needs. Always interactive. Can stand-alone or slot into a team day or event.
  • 6 module hybrid training – For managers or whole teams, includes how to communicate and collaborate in a hybrid environment, how to motivate staff and ensure wellbeing.
  • Career returners workshop – For people who’d like to return to work after a career break. We cover workers’ rights around flex, varieties of flex and how to ask for it.

View all training and workshops

Flexible Working Accreditation

We’re developing Scotland’s first good practice standard for flexible working that will provide a supportive framework for employers to increase their flexible offer and showcase their flexible culture.

Learn more now

  •  

Free Resources

  • Business case for flex (coming soon) – The hard data you need to convince yourself, or someone else, that flex is good for business
  • Case studies – Stories from employers and workers on how flex works for them.
  • Flexible working for managers and individuals - Our essential guide to all things flex.
  • Working well as a hybrid team (coming soon) – Our series of short videos for teams and/or managers will help hybrid teams work effectively and promote wellbeing.
  • Hybrid working for managers – Our practical guide for managers on how to approach hybrid and manage hybrid teams successfully.
  •  

View all free resources

Testimonials

Read testimonials from the businesses and organisations we've supported with flexible working.