Ignoring calls for flexibility could cost businesses £12 billion a year
Rachel Muller-Heyndyk, October 12, 2018
Women, young people and blue-collar workers are missing out on formal flexible working arrangements
UK businesses could lose out on £12 billion a year by 2023 if they ignore calls for greater workplace flexibility, a study from Quinyx has revealed.
The research found that by embracing more flexible working arrangements in the future, UK businesses could generate an output of £570 billion per year through flexible working by 2023. This is compared to an output of £558 billion per year if existing flexible working trends continue. The additional output would be garnered through factors such as reduction in staff churn and higher productivity, researchers said.
Yet the study revealed that despite increased demands for flexible working many employees are still dissatisfied with arrangements. While ONS statistics show that an additional 1.3 million workers enjoyed flexible working arrangements in 2017 compared to 2011, 73% of employees surveyed by Quinyx said they still face issues when it comes to flexibility in their current work schedules.
Fifteen per cent said that a lack of flexibility sometimes makes them feel isolated from friends and family, while 10% said it is having or has had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
The research also found that special attention needs to be paid to some of the most flexibly disadvantaged groups, including women, younger workers and blue-collar workers.
Between 2011 and 2017 zero-hours contracts in the UK increased by 674%, with prevalence among women and those aged under 20. By contrast, men in white-collar industries benefit more from formal flexitime arrangements than women, and only 25% of those working flexibly under the age of 20 enjoy flexitime arrangements, compared to a 42% average.
Erik Fjellborg, CEO of Quinyx, said that flexible working should be available to everyone.
“Whether male or female, young or old, with a bar or boardroom as an office, everyone should be offered fair and flexible work. While zero-hours contracts work for some, many of the other formal flexible working arrangements that are currently in place are for men in white-collar industries,” he said.
“This means that women, youth, and blue-collar workers are often left behind. It is essential that business leaders and managers address this and 'unforget' this previously forgotten workforce. That’s why we’re calling on employers across the UK to work with all their staff to better understand and implement the flexibility that’s right for them.”
He added that offering flexible work is vital to improving productivity in the UK.
“Widening skills gaps, a lag in productivity, and Brexit on the horizon mean British businesses are struggling to find, hire and retain the workers they need. Flexible working is an untapped solution to the UK’s biggest business challenges: the more employees are able to choose the right schedule for them the happier – and therefore more productive – they’ll be,” he added.
“But it’s clear that the current mindset needs to change. Flexibility does not need to mean increased costs and logistical nightmares; with the right tools in place it’s simple and economical. And by increasing flexibility, employers will give workers a voice and a choice, ultimately increasing productivity, retention and their overall performance.”
Censuswide surveyed full- and part-time workers in the UK on behalf of Quinyx. Of the respondents, 50% work fixed hours and 50% work non-fixed hours.