More than half of employers have witnessed increasing worker requests for flexible hours over past two years, research finds
A growing number of employees in the UK are requesting flexible working arrangements from their employers, including part-time working, variable start and finish times and home-working, according to XpertHR.
Its survey of 229 organisations employing more than 246,000 people across a broad range of sectors found that more than half of employers (55.9%) have seen an increase in requests for flexible working hours over the past two years, brought about by recent changes in working rights law and a shift in workplace culture.
Right to request
A change in the law in 2014, which extended the right to request flexible working to all employees with at least 26 weeks' service, has drastically increased the number of companies allowing staff to take flexible working arrangements, with three-quarters of employers approving at least seven out of 10 flexibility requests and one in 12 organisations allowing all their staff to work flexibly.
Firms allowing for flexible working have seen improved employee retention and increased engagement amongst staff with flexibility of cover, reduced absence, increased productivity and cost savings, respondents of the survey highlighted.
However, the shift in workplace structure has created challenges of its own; flexible working requests were declined by employers due to the need to deal with customers face-to-face and because the nature of certain business practices require more structured hours.
XpertHR managing editor for pay and HR practice Sheila Attwood said: "Flexible working can help make the most of today's diverse workforce and reduce skills shortages. However it's not without its challenges.
"These include difficulties booking meetings, the complexity of scheduling working hours and resentment from other employees. Companies offering flexible working must have robust policies and processes to overcome these challenges and ensure it is business as usual."
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