Nearly a third say demand for flexible working is biggest challenge for employers

flexible working demands

The biggest workplace issues facing employers across the globe are skills shortages (49%) and the demand for flexible working (30%), according to a study by HR and employment law firm alliance Ius Laboris.

The word – the forces for change surveyed 630 senior HR and legal professionals across 17 countries in Europe and North America. It found that flexible working has an influence on 89% of individuals when it comes to deciding whether to join an organisation.

The survey also found that 45% of businesses had made no new changes to address pay equality, despite the fact that 63% stated that removing gender differences was a number-one priority. In Europe, specifically, 74% of respondents ranked addressing gender inequality as a top priority, compared with 54% in North America.

The majority (86%) of respondents told the survey that they understood what constitutes sexual harassment at work. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of organisations in the US have made changes to their sexual harassment policies, but this dropped to less than half (46%) in Europe.

Elsewhere in the survey, 28% of respondents said the advantage of a globally mobile workforce meant that they had access to greater talent.

Sophie Maes, partner at Ius Laboris’ Belgian member law firm Claeys and Engels, said: “This is a new model that we are seeing more and more, where companies are just one virtual organisation and everyone works from different locations.”

Naomi Hanrahan-Soar, Managing Associate at Ius Laboris’ UK member firm Lewis Silkin added: “We have many clients that recruit foreign talent specifically because of the skills shortages in their areas, in particular within technology, AI and machine learning, engineers and language skills for region-specific business development.”

However, 47% of organisations surveyed faced barriers to making their workforce globally mobile via regulatory restrictions and employment laws differing from region to region. Almost two-thirds (62%) of those questioned stated that regulatory change and uncertainty posed a challenge to their organisations.

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The survey also found that 46% of the workforce look to virtual reality technologies to perform better in the workplace.

Tiffany Downs, partner at Ford Harrison, Ius Laboris’ US member firm, said: “Instead of trying to ignore the changing employment culture, [organisations] are better served to embrace it and try to figure out how [they] can make it a win for everyone.”