CBI and Hays research: Employers are tuned into flexible working

Reward packages of the future will increasingly reflect the needs of employees, according to research conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Hays.

Employers are thinking more flexibly about reward but perks will be driven by employee demand more and more.

The report Thinking positive: the 21st century employment relationship, comes as new research from EEF shows that manufacturers are increasingly operating a two-way street on flexibility with their workforces.

However, there are concerns that recent trends in employment regulation undermine the benefits that both parties gain from flexible working.

The CBI said that the government should build on the success of workplace relations forged during the recession by embedding a flexible approach into future employment law and in its Employment Law Review. Rather than automatically opting for legislation, in most cases the government should specify what it is trying to achieve and set out suggested processes in more flexible guidance or codes of practice. With much of our employment law coming from Europe, this approach should also be applied to EU directives.

Stephen Dando, global head of HR at Thomson Reuters, said: “Flexibility is increasingly important to people. There is a good degree of flexibility in the way people work here.”

In support of this Charles Logan, director at Hays, said: “Employees to have more flexibility in work and life. For instance, a large number of technical and skilled people do not want full-time employment and want to work in a self-employed environment. They want to have flexible work patterns and are happy to negotiate the terms they wish to work on.”

Furthermore, EEF is calling on the government to look harder at alternatives to regulation and to avoid complex and prescriptive regulations that get in the way of increasingly productive relationships between employers and employees.

But while almost four fifths (78%) of manufacturers in a survey believe that co-operative relationships with their workforce help them to achieve flexibility, almost half (48%) fear that frequent changes in regulation will make it increasingly difficult to achieve the flexibility that they need in the future.

Steve Radley, EEF director of policy, said: “Flexibility is increasingly a two-way street in manufacturing. Manufacturers need to respond rapidly to changes in markets and customer needs. And more employees are looking for greater flexibility in how they work.

“Manufacturers tell us that they achieve the flexibility that they and their employees are seeking by working increasingly closely with them. But they are concerned that the constant churn of new regulation and the complexity of new laws are putting these positive relationships at risk.

“Supporting flexibility must be a key part of the government’s growth strategy. To do this, it needs to send a clear signal that additional regulation will be the last rather than the first resort and ensure that any new measures are simpler and much less prescriptive than what we have seen in recent years.”

Read more stories on flexible working