More flexible working would provide a vital boost to employee productivity in the UK, according to Tory MP Helen Whately. She has introduced a Flexible Working Bill in Parliament which would result in flexible working becoming the default position for all employers rather than it being left to the individual to request. She argues that unless employers have a sound business reason for having specific working hours, firms should introduce flexibility to every job.
Whately contends that the Bill would help close the gender pay gap, assist parents to share childcare and help businesses retain staff.
Canada Life Marketing Director Paul Avis, agrees.
“Organisations need to recognise that the demands of a multi-generational workforce, all with busy lives, need to be addressed to gain and retain the best talent,” he stated. “The benefits of flexible working are numerous: it has been evidenced to improve the working lives of employees.”
Various surveys seem to back up the evidence. Canada Life, the life, health, and disability insurer, and communications technology business TeleWare, both found that employees state flexible working improves their productivity. And a study conducted by academics at the University of Kent and Vrije University in Amsterdam, which looked at different types of flexible working, found those able to determine their own schedules work harder to compensate for the stigma by colleagues attached to flexible working. In addition, the study found a quarter of all employees have turned down a job in the past because the company did not offer flexible working as part of the package.
A survey by insurer Aviva found that 39% of employees given the option would choose flexible working as the favourite employee benefit.
At present, less than 30% of UK employers offer flexible working for all staff despite the evidence that those employees who do work flexibly have reported that it makes them more productive.
Teleware’s CEO Steve Haworth said businesses are keen on flexible working policies but have been slow to implement them due to productivity concerns.
“Contrary to belief, there’s significant evidence that employees work just as hard, or even harder, when working from home,” he stated.
It remains to be seen whether Mrs Whately’s Bill will get government backing and become law.
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