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The business case for flexible working

Recent research from a number of sources has shown the high demand for flexible working.

81%

of UK employees feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them.

79%

believe flexible working would make them more productive.

92%

of millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting.

35%

of UK employees would prefer flexible working over a pay rise.

80%

of women want flexibility in their next role.

52%

of men want flexibility in their next role.

The business case for flexible working is compelling. However there is a huge gap between supply and demand for advertised jobs that offer flexibility. Only 9.8% of UK jobs advertised offered flexibility.

The population demographic and way of life is changing. Smart organisations recognise this and act upon it. Flexible working is no longer simply an issue for working mothers. The research shows that flexibility is becoming a key factor for workers across the entire jobs market, from millennials to early retirees, and affects men as well as women. 

Sources: Timewise, PowWowNow 2017, PowWowNow2019, CIPD

With the age of connectivity upon us, the world of work is changing faster than ever before. In the past workers were unavoidably shackled to a 9-5 lifestyle in a bricks and mortar office through necessity rather than choice.

Now technology is enabling the collaboration and sharing of content with anyone, whenever and wherever it’s needed. Cloud technology and the birth of communication tools such as Skype, Teams, Zoom and FaceTime mean that employees can be anywhere in the world and still be in ‘the office’.

Offering flexible working options could be one of the best things that a company can do today.

As the labour market demographic changes so too do the needs and desires of the workforce.  Four generations are now in the workplace, with diverse needs and expectations.

Millennials, (born after 1980), have a very different outlook and expectation of work than non-millennials. They invariably work with less job security, will retire later and do so with or without a pension, so their attitudes to work are significantly different

PWC’s recent global generational study found that millennial employees are unconvinced that excessive work demands are worth the sacrifices to their personal life. Millennials value work/life balance and they place a high priority on workplace culture. Flexibility in where they work and how much they work is a key driver in maintaining millennial satisfaction.

For the non-millennials there is still a strong demand for flexible working patterns:

  • Only 17 % of over 50s favour traditional retirement patterns as the majority want to ease into retirement via part time work first
  • 44% of baby-boomers want to work part time
  • 33% of Generation Y want to work flexibly
  • 1.1 million now work past 65; enabling phased retirement through flexible working for this group would keep a vast amount of skills and experience in the market.
  • New rights for all on requesting flexible working since 2014
  • New rights for paternity leave and shared leave
  • Shift in attitudes to paternity and shared parenting
  • Carers make up 12% of UK workforce
  • 30% of workforce are parents of school age children under 16
  • More than 2 million people become carers each year
  • 15% of people would like flexible working due to caring responsibilities

An employee survey carried out for CIPD by Kingston University/Ipsos MORI found that “workers on flexible contracts tend to be more emotionally engaged, more satisfied with their work, more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to quit.”

A happy workforce is key to retaining staff and offering flexible working helps employees to strike a happy work-life balance whilst ensuring that out of work factors such as children or caring for family members don’t get in the way of work commitments.

Unilever’s introduction of flexible and part-time working options resulted in 73% of staff being more likely to stay with the company.

Many time and motion studies have shown a causal link between productivity and flexible working. The 9-5 shift and the need to commute can negatively impact on both an employee’s time and energy.

Being able to manage one’s own time; working when inspired or unencumbered with other tasks can greatly improve an employee’s efficiency and lead to higher work-outputs as well as improving their quality of work.

Flexi-working at IBM reduced work-life conflict for men and women and led to an increase in productivity of 30% and Cisco states that employees working remotely are 5% more productive thean office-based employees.

In the global business place the market never stops. Somewhere in the world there is always someone looking to do business and offering flexible working can help your workforce to meet your customers’ needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Can you afford to miss out on any business opportunities due to the 9-5 working day?