Lack of flexible working means people miss major life events

A new survey claims that 67 percent of employees have missed major life events due to a lack of flexible working within their organisation. The survey conducted by Liberty Mind, was commissioned to explore the impacts on employees who do not have the opportunity of flexible working. From those surveyed it was found that 40 percent had missed hospital or health-related appointments due to a lack of flexible working, while 15 percent had missed moving house, 10 percent had missed a child’s school activity and 8 percent had missed a family funeral.

Furthermore, 83 percent of employees have been made to feel guilty by their employers for taking time off for a major life event. Despite the Government’s Flexible Working Policy introduced in June 2014, there has been little inquiry as to the number of employers which have embraced the policy; with no full Government review or independent commission as to the number of organisations actioning the policy, claims the study.

The Flexible Working Policy may be in place, but that doesn’t mean it is actioned or supported in all organisations, according to the authors. Life events, meaning a situation that affects interpersonal relationships and recreational activities, was found to be a key area in which employees found significant difficulty when there is a lack of flexibility offered within an organisation.

When asked how flexible working could benefit their lives, 44 percent of employees say that flexible working would help them to feel less stressed, while 13 percent say that flexible working would help them to care for a loved one.

Discussing the findings, Founder of Liberty Mind, Lizzie Benton, commented that; “Major life events play a significant role in our emotional and mental wellbeing, and the relationships connected to these have a critical impact on our wellbeing, so why are we creating organisations that are limiting them?

“According to the Organization of Economic Development, the UK currently ranks 29th in the work-life balance index. A staggering position considering that the UK is a developed nation. The common term ‘work-life balance’ itself, shows just how much as a society we have separated life from work. Life matters, but to many businesses, it is seen as an acceptable notion to separate the two.”

The Employee Reality survey, found that 87 percent of employees have considered changing jobs because their current employer does not offer flexible working.

“The ‘presence based work’ employers have become accustomed to across the UK, is an outdated mindset that believes if employees are not in an office for eight hours, they cannot possibly be doing their best work, asks Lizzie Benton. “But do people need exactly 8 hours to accomplish work? In many instances people are compelled to fill their time rather than be the most productive with it.

“The avoidance of finding a flexible working approach in any organisation is not because flexible working doesn’t work for all industries; it is because leaders are not passionate enough about finding a solution that works for their people and their business.”