34% do not offer flexible working

More than a third (34%) of employer respondents do not offer flexible-working options, according to research by Aviva.

Its Working lives report, which surveyed 500 UK private sector employers and 2,000 UK private sector employees, also found that 21% of employee respondents are too afraid to discuss flexible working with their manager because they think their flexible-working request will be declined.

The research also found:

  • 79% of employee respondents who have initiated a conversation about flexible working with their employer have had their request accepted.
  • 24% of employee respondents aged between 35 and 49 years old shy away from starting a conversation about flexible working due to a fear of rejection.
  • 51% of employer respondents believe providing flexible-working options increases productivity, and 68% think it makes their employees happier.
  • 63% of employee respondents admit they are more likely to remain with an employer who offers flexible working, and 36% identify flexible working as a deal breaker when considering a new job.
  • 37% of employee respondents claim that increased happiness is one of the top three outcomes from being able to work flexibly, and 34% cite being able to more effectively manage their responsibilities outside of work as one of the top three outcomes of flexible working.
  • 23% of employee respondents value being able to work from home, 22% value the option to work longer hours over fewer days, and 19% of employee respondents value being able to work varying and flexible hours each day across the week.
  • 65% of employer respondents think the private sector workforce will work more flexibly in five years’ time.
  • 51% of employee respondents state that they already do work flexibly, either on a regular or occasional basis.

Gareth Hemming, director of small to medium enterprise (SME) insurance at Aviva UK, said: “While flexible working may not be a practical option for all businesses they may still be able to introduce some degrees of flexibility, even on an ad-hoc basis that may be beneficial.

“Flexible working patterns are becoming increasingly common and businesses are predicting this trend will grow over the next five years. Indeed, many businesses have already adapted their operations, and a number have said they are considering it for the future as they recognise the benefits to both employer and employee.

“The fact that our research suggests some employees are too afraid to ask for flexible-working options suggests there is still some work to be done to create an open culture where employees can feel able to have conversations with their employers.”