42% of employers plan to reduce flexibility for staff in 2024

reduce flexibility employeesApproximately two-fifths (42%) of employers plan to reduce flexibility or offer less of this to their employees in 2024, according to research by Barnett Waddingham.

The independent consultancy, which surveyed 302 HR directors and C-suite professionals, found that this could see as many as 588,000 employers planning to offer reduced flexibility to working arrangements.

It also found that 17% of respondents will offer less flexibility around where they allow staff to work, while 15% plan to provide less flexibility around working hours.

However, almost one-third still recognise the importance of flexible working in meeting employee expectations, as 31% introduced more flexibility to their staff in the past year, with 33% doing so because they were concerned their employees would leave if they did not.

Julia Turney, partner, platform and benefits at Barnett Waddingham, said: “The findings shed light on the complex situation employers are facing with flexible working. From speaking with business leaders, it’s clear that employers are keen to realise certain benefits of office working; whether that’s improving productivity, creativity and culture or simply to justify spending on training. For most employees, however, flexibility is no longer seen as a perk, but a fundamental consideration for their career.

“While it’s natural for businesses to seek ways to optimise productivity, it’s equally vital to acknowledge that the workforce’s expectation has shifted significantly, and any changes could impact morale or even see resignations. Looking ahead, employers must engage in thoughtful and informed decision-making on this topic, backed up by hard analysis. Only by opening conversations with their workforce, and regularly collecting data, will they be able understand where on the sliding-scale of working flexibility they need to sit.”