Greater Governmental Support Needed to Encourage Flexible Working Within Businesses
UK WORKFORCE NOT BEING EQUIPPED WITH NECESSARY TOOLS AND KNOWLEDGE TO WORK FLEXIBLY
London, UK – 6th March, 2013 – 82 per cent of UK employees feel the Government must do more to incentivise businesses to implement flexible working policies, according to research commissioned by Plantronics (NYSE: PLT). The research, titled “The State of the Flexible Working Nation”, conducted by OnePoll, surveyed 2,000 UK employees to gain an understanding of the UK’s changing working culture.
Findings show 70 per cent of respondents feel more productive when working flexibly, yet only 54 per cent of UK employers provide staff with the opportunity to do so. Respondents listed being able to spend more time with their families (48 per cent), and saving money and time on commuting (52 per cent) as benefits to adopting a flexible working pattern.
Despite these benefits, Plantronics’ research revealed that only 36 per cent of UK employees feel they have the necessary tools and knowledge to work flexibly, with 63 per cent admitting they’d not received any specialist training in this area. These findings demonstrate that there is still a need to educate and support businesses in developing and rolling out flexible working policies, and that the Government must play a stronger role in helping businesses on this journey.
Additionally, the research suggested that even when flexible working is in place, UK employees are reluctant to embrace it. The study found that while more than half (54 per cent) of UK employers are providing staff with the opportunity to work flexibly, only 13 per cent of employees feel their colleagues support them when doing so. Furthermore, 42 per cent feel flexible working is only encouraged for staff with children.
From these findings, it is clear much needs to be done to foster smarter working policies within businesses, as well as change attitudes towards it. Staff also need to be equipped with the required tools and knowledge to optimise the benefits flexible working can deliver. With the right incentives and support from the Government, there is a real opportunity for businesses to better implement flexible working initiatives and take advantage of the benefits it can offer.
“At Plantronics we’re great advocates of flexible working and believe passionately that every employee and organisation can benefit from it, from increased productivity to cost savings. However, to truly take advantage of smarter working processes, employers must have the right tools and training in place and this ethos should be supported and echoed by Government in the form of better education and business incentives if the nation’s working culture is to change. The government has already taken some big steps aimed at extending flexible working rights for all, supported by the deputy Prime Minister’s recent campaigning, but our research suggests there is still work to be done”, says Norma Pearce, EMEA HR Director, Plantronics.
Practicing what it preaches, Plantronics launched its Simply Smarter Office at its UK headquarters in Royal Wootton Bassett in July 2011. The office redesign, which was undertaken to implement a flexible working environment, enables employees to improve their work life balance by providing the necessary tools, skills and knowledge to enable them to effectively work remotely from any location.
Since its launch, Plantronics has seen a 24 per cent increase in employee satisfaction, to 85 per cent from 61 per cent, a reduction in employee absenteeism from 12.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent, and a decrease in attrition from 12 per cent to two. In a recent Employee Engagement survey, Plantronics ranked in the 98th percentile in the UK, and the 86th percentile in Europe and Africa; both significantly above the industry benchmark. The initiative has received many industry awards; including a British Institute of Facility Management Award for Impact on Organisation & Workplace, and it also won the Family Friendly Awards’ Innovation category for business practices putting staff at the heart of their companies.