The benefits of flexible working are highly publicised and increasingly obvious to the average worker. But, sometimes it takes a little longer for the top brass to be convinced. Oliver Pickup reports eight stats that will convince your boss once and for all
1. Improve your recruitment
The killer stat: 75 per cent of workers want a job that offers flexible working.
Says who? Research by web-meeting service provider Powwownow(1).
The need-to-know: Having increased from 70 per cent in 2017, it’s clearly a growing trend. Further, a staggering 81 per cent of women say that flexible working would make a work role more appealing, with almost half (45 per cent) strongly agreeing that they would opt for a job that offers flexible working.
What do the experts say? “Businesses who want to attract and motivate the best talent need to recognise that in an increasingly busy digital world, where managing work-life balance is more complex, flexible working is a key consideration for employees applying for a new role,” says Jason Downes, Managing Director of Powwownow.
What to tell your boss: “Failure to offer flexible working is likely to damage our future recruitment plans.”
2. Boost your bottom line
The killer stat: The average US worker would accept an eight per cent pay cut to work from home.
Says who? A joint Princeton University and Harvard University study(2).
The need-to-know: The paper, Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements, published in March 2017, was the result of 7,000 interviews by Amanda Pallais from Harvard and Princeton’s Alexander Mas.
What do the experts say? “Of the employee-friendly alternatives we consider, working from home is the most valued,” the authors of the paper. “On average, job applicants are willing to take eight per cent lower wages for the option of working from home.”
What to tell your boss: “There’s a double saving to be made, with overheads and salaries likely to diminish with the growth of flexible workers.”
3. Encourage employee loyalty
The killer stat: Two in three employees say they’re more loyal to employers offering flexibility.
Says who? Research by Aviva UK Insurance(3).
The need-to-know: Not only is flexible working favourable when recruiting, it’s now also a key factor in retaining the services of current staff, according to Aviva’s Working Lives 2017 report, published in May 2017.
What do the experts say? Andy Briggs CEO, Aviva UK Insurance, says: “Employees’ priorities are evolving, and businesses who want to stay ahead are realising offering the right benefits in terms of health or flexible working can have a major impact on business performance.”
What to tell your boss: “Without flexible working on offer, the best talent may depart for rivals that are more modern in terms of their employee packages.”
4. Increase your profits
The killer stat: Six in 10 companies worldwide say flexible working policies have increased their profits.
Says who? Research by Vodafone(4).
The need-to-know: The report, ‘Flexible: Friend Or Foe?’, published in February 2016, sought to address the pros and cons of flexible working around the world. It was one of the largest global surveys of its kind, conducted with 8,000 employers and employees across three continents.
What do the experts say? “Employers are telling us that flexible working boosts profits while their employees tell us they’re more productive,” says Vodafone Group Enterprise Chief Executive Nick Jeffery. “Central to all of this are the new technologies that are reshaping every sector, from high-speed mobile data networks and fixed-line broadband to the latest collaborative cloud services. We truly are in an era when work is what you do, not where you go.”
What to tell your boss: “The majority of C-suiters are most concerned about the bottom line, so if there is a correlation between flexible working and profits, why not embrace it?”
It’s hard to argue with the data – there are plenty of compelling reasons to work flexibly
5. Keep up with your competitors
The killer stat: Almost a third of the British working population work flexible hours.
Says who? Perkbox, an employee engagement provider, in its Great Perk Search report , published August 2018.
The need-to-know: Twenty-nine per cent of the UK workforce is using flexible working indicates employers are beginning to see the importance of work-life balance.
What do the experts say? “Flexible working consistently ranks as one of the most popular perks desired by millennials,” says Chieu Cao, Co-founder and Chief Managing Officer of Perkbox(5). “The fact that so many Britons currently work this way already shows that employers are listening. Flexible working is a key way to boost employee happiness, retention and ensure you’re hiring the most talented staff.”
What to tell your boss? “We need to adopt flexible working if we want to compete with our rivals.”
6. Enjoy more productive workers
The killer stat: Three-quarters of workers say they’re most productive outside the traditional nine-to-five working day.
Says who? Research by business communications organisation Fuze(6).
The need-to-know: Fuze’s Workplace Futures report, published in May 2018, also suggests that 89 per cent of workers believe flexible working should be how we work – not a benefit.
What do the experts say? “To achieve greater employee responsiveness, [businesses] must engage workers more, and discover when, where, and how they work best, as well as promote open mindsets,” says Sophie Wade, Workforce Innovation Specialist at Flexcel Network. “Increasingly aligned with employees’ desires for new ways of working, competitive employers are seeking to discover each person’s optimal work conditions, so they can be as productive as possible.”
What to tell your boss: “The nine-to-five is long gone – or should be. Modern organisations need to put their employees first to get the most out of them.”
7. Take your lead from the SMEs
The killer stat: Two in three SMEs (small- to medium-sized enterprises) in New Zealand offer flexible working.
Says who? Research from MYOB(7), New Zealand
What you need to know: The MYOB Business Monitor survey, published in April 2018, found that of the 1,000-plus SMEs surveyed, 18 per cent offered flexible hours to cover childcare, 22 per cent allowed flexible start and end times, and some 34 per cent granted out-of-office working.
What do the experts say? MYOB New Zealand general manager Carolyn Luey said: “These days, teams can work from just about anywhere thanks to digital communication, smartphones, laptops and other new technologies. People also are more likely to be able to negotiate flexible working arrangements – particularly if they’re a parent or primary caregiver.”
What to tell your boss: “By integrating unified communications tools, such as video conferencing and instant messaging, workers will find working away from the office just as productive.”
8. Unlock employee motivation
The killer stat: 65 per cent of managers say flexible working helps boost employee motivation.
Says who? A study by the Institute of Leadership & Management(8).
What you need to know: The report, ‘Flexible working: Goodbye nine to five’, published in 2017, sought to define the barriers to adopting a more flexible way of working – and how to overcome them.
What do the experts say? “Managers who grant their teams autonomy are able to assess whether they can trust them, how well they are managing their workload under direction, and their commitment and motivation,” say the authors of the report. “Rather than a focus on hours in the office, the focus needs to shift to outputs and results.”
What to tell your boss? “Organisations need to be more open-minded about when and where work is completed.”
Oliver Pickup is a London-based writer, specialising in business, lifestyle and technology
(6) https://www.fuze.com/workforce-futures / https://www.fuze.com/files/documents/Fuze-WorkforceFutures-Infographic.pdf