According to a research report by Flexecutive, in spite of clear and present demand for flexible working practices (in all the myriad of forms that currently exist as well as those that have yet to be invented), the actual take-up is poor. This is especially true of middle and senior managers who are still disciples of the cult of presenteeism, and which is a disturbing trend, given the clear need for flexible working and their unambiguous business benefits.
Although the overwhelming majority of people in two core professional groups report a strong desire for flexible working and better work-life balance, they fear that it will severely undermine their career development. Flexible working is perceived by many as leading to career death. And this research suggests that this is not an organisational myth – career death is, for many, a fact of flexible working.
Although professionals work within a knowledge and output based environment, yet most in this survey are still experiencing a largely traditional working pattern. Despite the high priority and publicity given to flexible working over the past five years, the way in which we work has not evolved to anything like the same extent as have markets, customers and technology.
– The majority, both male and female, want greater flexibility in the way they work. However most currently still report working to traditional patterns.
– Individuals are able to give a wide range of positive reasons for why they want this, including work-life balance, reducing travel time, and improving health and fitness.
– There is a majority in marketing and a large proportion in HR who are currently experiencing difficulty in these areas of their life and are not satisfied with their work-life balance.
– There are very few gender differences in this research. Men report a higher level of dissatisfaction with the amount of time that they get to spend with their families than do their female counterparts. And while both men and women take-up full-time flexible roles, reduced or part-time roles are still considerably less likely to be taken-up by men.
– Career progression emerged as a major barrier to the achievement of flexible working. The vast majority (81%) believe that it would negatively impact their careers
– In order to change this perception, an integrated, holistic programme of culture change is required that directly impacts performance management, succession planning and other core career development processes.
Would flexible working hold back you career development? Post your comments below.