“Constant stigma” stops employees taking advantage of flexible working

53% of UK employees would choose flexible working over a 5% salary increase, while 45% would still opt for it over a 10% salary rise

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Despite 54% of UK workers want access to flexible working options, only 34% were encouraged to by their employers, with many citing a constant stigma around it – according to research from My Family Care and Hydrogen.

The survey of 1,587 UK employees and 310 employers also found that while 37% of workers have flexible start and finish times, 63% said they wanted flexible start and finish times as well.

Cited by 81% of respondents, flexibility is by far the top benefit UK employees look for before joining a new company, followed by an enhanced pension scheme (35%), private healthcare insurance (28%) and commission (28%).

Workers were even willing to sacrifice salary, with 53% opting for flexible working over a 5% salary increase and 45% choosing it over a 10% salary rise.

However, the study showed an enduring stigma around the practice with 26% of women and 18% of men saying that working flexibly would impact their career prospects – although flexibility was equally important to both genders.

28% of those surveyed said they don’t feel comfortable requesting a more flexible arrangement from their employer, because they didn’t want to seem less committed to the business (51%), they were worried it would impact their chances of promotion or pay rise in the future (31%) or their employers would think they were trying to get out of work (30%).

Productivity, attracting top talent, talent retention, a better work-life balance and happier employees were found to be the top benefits of flexible working, with 87% of employees and 92% of employers believing that flexible workers are just as, or more, productive than those who work regular hours.

Workers in the technology sector were the most likely to desire flexible working (75%), followed by accountancy (72%) and finance (64%). With 55% of millennials wishing for flexible start and finish times and 24% wanting to work remotely more than once a week, conventional working hours could be on the wane.

Ian Temple, CEO of Hydrogen, commented:

“The way we work is radically changing in our digitally connected world. However, our research has found that while demand is very high for flexible working, many companies are not capitalising on this by encouraging it through the marketing of their roles or promoting it internally, which would increase the pool of talent they could attract.”

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