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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.

Flexible contracts and working hours are a major boon for businesses; firms offering flexibility claim that staff retention and morale are significantly improved, and that productivity is directly increased. Over one third (37 per cent) of businesses have seen much greater staff morale following the introduction of flexible working and just under half (49 per cent) say that being a bit more adaptable has helped them retain valued staff.

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.

Notes to Editors:
For more information:
Ellen Fenton, Lloyds TSB Corporate Press Office
Tel: 020 7356 2076
www.mediacentre.lloydstsb.com

  • Data available by region, sector and company size from the Lloyds TSB Press Office.
  • Lloyds TSB Corporate provides financial, banking and advisory services, tailored to the needs of businesses with a turnover greater than £2 million per year. It currently manages the financial requirements of over 15,000 corporate customers throughout the UK.

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