Workplace flexibility ‘very important’ for 77% of UK workers

workplace flexibility

Workplace flexibility is one of the most prevalent trends among UK workers, with over three-quarters (77%) stating that it is very important to them, according to a report from employee benefits provider Unum and independent researcher the Future Laboratory.

The study, The future workforce, carried out by Opinium in March 2018 and published in September 2018, also reveals that 61% of UK workers believe their employer should accommodate their needs and life stage, such as offering parental or grandparental leave and associated benefits, and different hours to accommodate varied lifestyles and healthcare.

Younger workers are more likely to expect such benefits, with 73% of 25 to 34-year-olds favouring them, compared with 45% of 55 to 64-year-olds.

The report also reveals that almost half (46%) of UK workers expect to have multiple careers throughout their working life, as opposed to one lifelong career. The study says one of the key reasons for these trends is the growing ‘sandwich generation’ of those attempting to balance raising children with caring for ageing parents.

Liz Walker, HR director at Unum, said: “It’s clear that seismic societal changes, such as the growing sandwich generation, are having a huge impact on employee expectations about what they want from both their workplace and their career more broadly. Many UK businesses have already taken great steps to enable employees to work more flexibly but there is more to be done in order to attract and retain the best talent in the wake of these new expectations. True flexibility goes beyond providing the infrastructure for employees to work remotely. It must be baked into the culture of an organisation and espoused by management.”

According to the research, almost three-quarters (74%) of workers are still keen to continue learning into their older years. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they expect to work longer because they want to, rather than out of necessity.

Walker added: “UK businesses must consider how to cater for their employees at all stages of their life and to prepare for a future in which more workers than ever share a role with a colleague, pursue a new career path or even leave a company to later return.”