August 5, 2022

SME Business News

Small Business News UK

What employees want: new research reveals the true cost of inflexible working

New research shows that UK and Irish employees are willing to quit their jobs in search of a better work-life balance, alongside the option to have more flexible working hours. 

The impact of Covid and rising household expenses have led to a re-awakening among workers, who are increasingly reevaluating their personal lives and preferring to work in their own time. Their inherent belief, rightfully so, is that output doesn’t need to be tight to certain hours of the day. 

More than two-thirds (72%) of those surveyed called for more flexible hours, over half (57%) a flexible location and one-third (34%) the freedom to pick and choose their own benefits. Unfortunately, almost one-third (30%) of people remain bogged down with inflexible working arrangements.

The findings were uncovered in new research for Boundless, a global employment and benefits platform, which questioned 402 HR directors and 2,057 employees in the UK and Ireland. The research backs up recent findings from PwC showing that almost a fifth of UK workers are planning to leave their current job in the next 12 months in search of better pay and job satisfaction. 

According to the Boundless research, many employers have actively done work to support their employees over the past two years through monetary and non-mandatory benefits, such as letting them work remotely, providing home office equipment, mental health support, money towards co-working spaces and covering WFH bills and expenses. Yet while this is helpful and appreciated, more than two-fifths of employees still want more flexibility when it comes to benefits.

The research, in fact, delivers a warning for employers that don’t offer flexibility in their benefits packages to support people on a monthly basis. That is particularly the case when it comes to navigating the current cost of living crisis. Almost one third of workers want the freedom to pick and choose benefits, and 14% want a benefits allowance rather than prescribed benefits. Similarly, 13% want the option to switch up their benefits each month, while 12% crave more control over how they allocate managing their existing benefit allowance. And the quest for greater flexibility doesn’t stop there: more than half (52%) of employees wish their organisation offered the ultimate benefit – less work, in the form of a four-day work week.

Dee Coakley, CEO and co-founder of Boundless, says: “With the majority of employees crying out for more flexibility, and two-fifths calling for benefits that ease the cost of living, employers need to think carefully about their current benefit offering and whether it is still fit-for-purpose at a time of crisis. Our research shows that as many as 55% of employees are more than willing to hand in their resignation and move on in search of better benefits.

“Employers also need to take note of the benefits employees value most, with the five most popular being a four-day work week; bonuses; additional annual leave; flexible working and healthcare. 

“Of course, each person’s benefit priorities will differ according to their unique life circumstances, which is why we’re seeing more organisations abandon the conventional approach to benefits and offer more flexibility – letting their people choose the specific benefits that are right for them.”

According to Boundless, employers could help employees with the cost of living crisis by giving them a choice in how they spend their monthly benefits budget. When employees are able to choose what they claim as their benefits each month, they can put the energy bill one months which has more than doubled in the last six months for most households and then put the Netflix subscription the next to make sure they wind down at the end of a long day. The needs and desires of people change each month, and organisations will do well for themselves if they can be flexible and adapt to that.