Bosses overwhelmingly in favour of flexible working

An illustration of a magnet attracting smiling people to work, illustrating conflicting approaches to flexible workingBusinesses that fail to accommodate staff looking to set their own work schedule in some way will struggle to attract and retain talent, claims new research from Vistage. The research suggests that nearly two-thirds (73 percent) of UK CEOs and business leaders believe organisations that fail to offer flexible working to employees will face a struggle to attract talent. More than half (59 percent) of respondents said they’ve already written flexible working options into standard employment contracts. A further 36 percent say it’s either something they’re looking at or would consider in the future.

According to the study, just under half (47 percent) of employers agree that workers who set their own hours are more productive. Just 14 percent of respondents believe flexible working leads to an overall dip in productivity. However, concerns remain among executives about giving employees free rein to set their time and place of work. Just over a quarter (28 percent) of bosses say they’re concerned that flexible working hours may lead staff to abuse the privilege in order to take more time off than they should.

And despite a wave of recent publicity around companies that have begun offering staff ‘unlimited holiday,’ most employers draw the line when it comes to allowing staff to manage their own holiday allowance. Just 3 percent say they allow staff to take as much time off as they want, while 70 percent say it doesn’t figure in their long-term plans.

Respondents to the Vistage survey were far more open to the idea of a shorter working week. Nearly one in ten (9 percent) say they’ve implemented a four-day working week for employees, and a further 45 percent say it’s something they’re either looking at currently or considering as something they might roll out in the future.

Geoff Lawrence, Managing Director, Vistage UK, said: “Leadership is about far more than ensuring everyone clocks in and clocks out on time. Great leaders set expectations and boundaries from the outset, and then trust their employees to get on with the job in hand.  Modern life is less and less suited to the rigidity of a fixed working day, while broader macro-trends are continuing to drive forward a more flexible approach to work. Business owners that recognise these trends and are willing to evolve will be able to attract, retain and motivate staff far more easily than those who remain stuck in the nine-to-five.”