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Jobs market lags behind demand for flexible working

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Employees’ desire for flexible working far exceeds companies’ capacity to offer it, a report published today has found.

According to the new study, from recruitment, analysis and consultancy firm Timewise, less than one in 10 jobs paying at least £20,000 full-time equivalent are advertised as being open to flexible working options. This has left the jobs market lagging behind the aspirations of workers in full-time non-flexible hours jobs, 64% of whom, found the report, would prefer to work flexibly.

The study, Flexible Working: A Talent Imperative, also reveals that 63% of full-time staff are already working flexibly, 40% of whom under an informal arrangement with their employers.

The desire for working from home and varied hours options is about equal for both genders, with 84% of male full-time workers and 91% reporting that they work flexibly or would like to work flexibly.

Younger people are particularly keen on flexibility: 69% of 18-34 year olds in full-time work would like to work flexibly and a similar proportion (73%) already work flexibly.

The report states that 25% of those in full-time work would prefer to work part time if it didn’t affect their pay per hour or career progression.

Work-life balance

More control over work-life balance, a reduction in commuting times, caring for family members and more time for study are also cited by respondents as reasons for wanting flexible working.

According to Timewise joint CEO Karen Mattison, employers have held themselves back by assuming that flexible working is mainly an aspiration for women: “The fact that flexible working has been seen as a women’s issue has not done women or businesses any favours. Today’s new research shows once and for all, that flexible working is a preferred way of working for both men and women at all stages of their working lives.”

The report was supported by professional services firm EY. Chief operating officer for UK and Ireland Lynn Rattigan said that smart companies should be “establishing an agile working workforce and culture fit for the future”. Advances in technology and the rise of the gig economy meant that simply having a flexible working policy was no longer enough, she added.

Other key findings

Among full-time workers, 92% of 18-34 year olds; 88% of 35-54 year olds; and 72% of those aged 55+ either currently work flexibly, would like to work flexibly or would prefer to work part time

70% of part-time employees who would prefer to continue working part time say their part time arrangement is essential or very important to them

71% of full-time workers who have a flexible working arrangement say it is essential or very important to them

Among full-time workers who do not work flexibly but want to, 77% see it as being beneficial or very beneficial

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