Flexible working is an important aspect of employment for many UK employees. In fact, when asked what engages them most at work, almost a third (29%) favoured the ability to work when and where they desire.[i]
Here at ADP our recent research has found that over half (56%) of employees across Europe remain working in a fixed location, such as an office.i This could be down to a myriad of reasons regarding the staffing structure, company sector and customer/client demands. However, for those organisations with a business model that allows for flexible working opportunities, incorporating this into the workplace offering can have great brand reputational, talent retention, and financial benefits.
The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index discovered only 6.2 % of all openly advertised jobs on the market offer some form of flexible working.[ii] This stat proves that organisations are missing the mark when it comes to developing and promoting flexible working strategies.
Often, a lack of flexible working opportunities leaves employees trapped at their existing skill level because there are minimal options to work elsewhere in a flexible role. Where possible, those organisations with the option of allowing their employees to work flexibly should push this initiative forward and become corporately responsible for ending this workplace exclusion. This is something promoted by Timewise, who have launched the new initiative ‘Hire Me My Way’ backed by EY, aimed at encouraging a fairer market.[iii]
Attracting future leaders
Millennials – our future workplace leaders – are moving the flexible working agenda forwards. Flexing work hours is a top priority for a number of millennials who consider work-life balance to be considerably more important than financial reward.[iv]
In giving this age group the freedom to tailor their working day to their individual needs and desires, this will not only engage existing employees, but also make the employer more attractive to prospective top talent. However, whilst focussing on changes suitable for millennials, we cannot forget that all generations of employees may want flexible working as well.
In a world where business decisions and problems can escalate within minutes, mobile and flexible working can be hugely valuable. Employees don’t have to be permanently tied to their desks, but can be available via phone and email throughout the working day.
In fact, flexible working is estimated to be saving British businesses £34bn.[v] This figure isn’t that surprising, considering that when employees decide to work in places other than the static office environment it reduces the need to spend money on overheads such as office space for staff, while employees will save considerable commuting costs.
As the workplace develops, we can expect more and more employees to seek out flexible working. We need to prepare for this and, where possible, cater to employees’ desires for greater freedom and a better work-life balance, while also fitting with the workplace environment. In doing so, organisations will help improve the employment landscape for UK employees, help recruit and retain top talent as well as reduce organisational costs. This will only considerably – and positively – impact overall business success.
[i] ADP UK. The Workforce View 2014/15. http://www.adp.co.uk/assets/vfs/Account-102441/WFV14-15/ADP-Workforce-View-2014-2015-Whitepaper.pdf
[ii] Timewise, Flexible Jobs Index 2016. http://timewise.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Timewise_Flexible_Index_2016.pdf
[iv] PwC, Millennials at Work, 2011 https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/assets/reshaping-the-workplace.pdf