83% of UK's businesses not flexible enough for employees

Recent research demonstrates that nearly half of the participants would decline a significant 15% salary increase in favour of maintaining workplace flexibility, even amidst a tough economic environment.

Despite the allure of a higher salary, the findings from a study conducted by PayFit, a payroll and HR software firm, reveal that 83% of respondents believe their current workplace's flexible working policies require enhancement.

These insights shed light on a pressing concern: businesses might be falling short in addressing issues related to talent retention, risking the loss of skilled workers to more adaptable competitors, especially with the introduction of more comprehensive flexible working regulations on 6 April 2024.

The forthcoming Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill will empower millions of UK workers to seek modifications to their employment terms and conditions, including adjustments to their working hours, schedules, and locations. Additionally, the legislation will allow workers to request flexible working arrangements from the first day of employment.

The survey underscores a critical issue: while the adoption of flexible working practices is on the rise, many businesses are not meeting employee expectations. A notable 32% of respondents are dissatisfied with their employer's flexible working policy, adding to the initial 83% who voiced the need for policy enhancements. These figures suggest a significant disparity between current practices and what employees deem effective and satisfactory regarding flexibility.

The dissatisfaction stems from various factors, including a perceived lack of trust, diminished confidence in personal value, and a call for greater transparency in flexible working environments. Specifically:

  • A quarter of those surveyed (25%) highlighted the need for increased trust in the workplace
  • 34% felt uneasy about requesting flexibility, indicating a misalignment between employees and existing policies
  • 14% believed that engaging in flexible working could impede their career progression
  • 18% were apprehensive about how opting for flexible working might cast doubts on their commitment to the company
  • 30% felt that their current flexible working policies were not genuinely supported or encouraged

With these insights, PayFit anticipates that both the research findings and the upcoming legislative changes will encourage businesses to reconsider their stance and adapt to the changing needs of their workforce, moving away from outdated or inflexible policies.

CEO and Co-Founder, PayFit, Firmin Zocccheto comments: “Covid kick-started flexible working expectations, and policies were drawn up in haste at the time. However, our research suggests that the vast majority of employees see room for improvement with the current flexible working options available to them. It’s also clear that even as financial pressures mount, employees are placing a premium on the ability to tailor their work arrangements to suit their lifestyles.

“With the impending legislative changes, it’s time for businesses to review their policies and add a layer of sophistication to offerings so that the benefits are attractive to employees' needs. The good news is, there’s a wealth of data available for employers to tap into, giving them better-than-ever insights on what flexibility truly means to their employees. Turning this data into a meaningful employee experience will be integral to their strategy for growth and retaining top talent. The research is clear: for sustained success and employee happiness, businesses need to cultivate a workplace culture that embraces flexibility at every touchpoint, offer remuneration packages that are balanced between financial and personal wellbeing, and deliver relevant flexible working policies that are attuned to real and current needs and trends.”