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Janine Milne

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Employees don’t get the benefit of not being 9 to 5


HR professionals must make a better job of explaining the merits of flexible working, as many workers wrongly assume this is just another way for their employers to slash costs.

Nine in ten UK professionals believed flexible working would soon dominate working practices, according to a survey by recruiter Ortus. Yet, only 12% of the survey 450 respondents saw this as a key benefit – less than the number of respondents who ranked having a free mobile phone as important to them.
The survey pointed to a widespread misconception about the benefits of flexible working. More than half the respondents thought that business efficiency and productivity were behind the growth of flexible working. In contrast, only 12% believed it was a measure to help people manage the number of hours they work.
“These findings suggest that HR professionals have their work cut out for them in convincing staff of the relative merits of flexible working. The business case is obvious as it allows for efficiency savings on office costs and greater output. However, the benefit to the individual of a better work life balance and less time and money spent commuting are perhaps surprisingly ranked low,” said Stephen Menko, UK director of Ortus.
Flexible working was only the sixth most coveted benefit (12%), languishing behind five weeks holiday, pension, bonus, mobile phone and insurance. Almost twice as many women (16%) as men (9%) ranked flexible working as ‘vital’, however, reflecting the fact that the bulk of childcare is still done by women. 
Given the level of misinformation, it’s hardly surprising that only a third believed flexible working was something their company offered, while government estimates put the true figure at 91%.