Since the financial crisis of 2008 the productivity rate in the UK has been dwindling.
It has been noted that the UK falls behind other European Countries, producing less per hour than our neighbours. But according to the latest figures released on April 6th by the Organisation for National Statistics, we are now seeing a rise in productivity for the first time in 10 years.
This data inspired HSBC to conduct a survey to find out what business are doing to aid with workplace productivity.
In their study, they found that flexible working seemed to be the key to optimising productivity, with 89% of respondents saying that this benefit motivated them to be more productive and would opt for a better work/life balance over salary.
The Flexible Working Report, produced by My Family Care and Hydrogen, found that only 18% of their respondents wanted to work at their employer’s place of work, compared to 54% wanting to work remotely or from home.
81% said they would consider flexible working options first and foremost before any other typical benefits, 53% said that they would rather have flexible working than a pay rise, and 63% of respondents even admitted to rejecting a job offer due to the lack of flexible working benefits.
The change in demographic is also contributing to this trend, with many of the younger generation opting for flexible working, creating a better work/life balance, over financial rewards.
In a recent report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, Fathers in the Workplace, they outline the need for all jobs to be advertised with flexible working to reflect the changing society.
The paper also reports that the option for this benefit currently seems to be biased towards females with dependants, with fathers even more likely to perceive that they will be viewed negatively by their employers if they requested flexible working.
But the reality is that the benefit of working flexibly also needs to be extended across the board for all staff, not just parents or those with dependants. Employers need to make sure that this benefit is readily available for all employees, or risk being accused of discrimination and disengaging their employees.
The demand for flexible working is so high, and even though 96% of employers say that they offer this already, only a mere 9.8% of roles paying over £20,000 per annum have advertised the benefit.
The technology sector is currently leading the way when it comes to flexible working, with 47% of employees reporting that this option is available to them. Because of this, HSBC also reported that the productivity levels were among the highest, where the productivity gap between tech industry workers and non-tech workers has risen to 10%.
Flexible working will no doubt continue to be at the top of the list for most prospective employees as the working world slowly becomes dominated by the younger generation, whom strive for passion and experiences above money.
The current lack of flexible working arrangements could be detrimental to businesses, as current candidate shortages mean that companies that do offer this benefit will often be first choice when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
But flexible working doesn’t just have to having the option to work from home, in fact there are many ways this can be implemented, including being office based with flexible hours, the option to job share, and even take sabbaticals.