Media centre - Press releases
1 December 2003
UK BUSINESSES SPOT THE OPPORTUNITY IN FLEXIBLE WORK OPTIONS
UK firms are switching on to the rewards of flexible
working, according to the latest Business in Britain
report from Lloyds TSB Corporate. One third of firms currently offer
work options for full time employees and these companies are already
reaping the benefits.
Record low unemployment is making recruiting skilled staff increasingly difficult, and almost half (43 per cent) of the 2,000 businesses surveyed had problems recruiting the right people. 70 per cent of job seekers now want to work more flexibly, according to a recent DTI survey and almost half would also look for flexible working over any other benefit offered by employers. These changing priorities, together with new legislation earlier this year that enshrined the right for working parents to request flexible working, have turned up the pressure for British businesses.
Peter Navin, Banking Director for Lloyds TSB Corporate, comments; “Flexibility is now a vital recruitment tool that can give employers the edge in an environment where the competition for quality staff is intense. Any company that can rise to the challenge and see flexible working as an opportunity, rather than a threat, can seize advantage.”
But UK firms still need to look at offering more creative employment solutions. Fewer than four per cent provide tailor made options such as personalised hours or compressed working weeks. Family friendly company benefits are also thin on the ground with fewer than one per cent of firms offering any form of childcare benefits. Peter Navin continues; “Clearly employers are beginning to respond to the expectations and priorities of their employees, but businesses increasingly need to find even more innovative ways to retain and motivate staff. Investment in staff needs to be seen as an investment in the business.”
However, many firms believe that being more accommodating would be too impractical. Although only one in ten (11 per cent) companies do not think they would actually benefit from flexible working, seven out of ten (72 per cent) still see it as unworkable for their business. The cost and organisation required to co-ordinate and administer such arrangements, particularly in big firms, can be seen as prohibitive, as 82 per cent of larger companies (51+ employees) claim it is not workable.
There is evidently some way to go before flexible work
options becomes the norm, but it is clear that some UK businesses
have spotted the opportunities and advantages in being flexible and
they will be looking to build on their successes.
© Work-Life balance part of The Work Foundation 2005