May 25, 2023
Four million UK employees have changed careers due to a lack of flexible working options
New research from the CIPD suggests that an estimated 4 million people have changed careers due to a lack of flexible working options, while an estimated 2 million have left a job in the last year for the same reason. As a result, the CIPD is warning that businesses may face a talent exodus if they fail to offer more flexible choices to people. The CIPD’s latest report, which explores employee and employer perspectives towards flexible and hybrid working practices, highlights that offering them is key to retaining and attracting staff, addressing the current skills shortage and fostering inclusive workplaces.
Following the pandemic, flexible working has become much more embedded in the world of work. The CIPD’s latest research shows that a growing number of organisations offer flexible working from day one of employment (39% in 2023 vs 36% in 2021) and 14% of those without this in place intend to do so before Government legislation, announced in December 2022, takes effect. However, almost half (49%) of employers still aren’t aware of the pending legislation, which will make requests a day one right, highlighting the need for more education and action amongst employers.
The research with more than 4,000 senior decision-makers and employees by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, also found:
- Employees with a disability or long-term health condition are significantly more likely to say they have left a job in the last year (21%) or changed their career/profession (32%) due to a lack of flexible options.
- 71% of workers view a flexible work pattern as important to them when considering a new role, while 69% say the ability to work remotely is important.
- Two-fifths (40%) of employers have seen an increase in flexible working requests and a growing number of employers (66% vs 56% in 2021) believe it’s important to offer flexible working as an option when advertising roles.
- 65% of employers provide some kind of flexibility to their front-line workers. However, there’s significant unmet demand from workers for more flexible hours arrangements, such as flexitime (17% currently use vs 29% would use if offered and possible in their role), term-time working (2% vs 8%), compressed hours (4% vs 18%), job-sharing (1% vs 4%) and annualised hours (3% vs 11%).
The CIPD report outlines recommendations for employers to adopt flexible and hybrid working, including:
- Implement internal policies that allow employees to request flexible working from day one of employment and, wherever possible, stipulate in job adverts that jobs can be done flexibly.
- Raise awareness of different forms of flexible working and explore how they can be effective in roles that have traditionally been seen as non-flexible.
- Provide training and support to managers on how to manage flexible and hybrid teams effectively.
- Develop an action plan to ensure that hybrid working supports inclusion and embed inclusion in every aspect of hybrid working.
- Consult and collaborate with employees when designing hybrid working practices.