13 Nov 2017
Flexible working is more likely to motivate staff and ultimately increase workplace productivity than money, it has been claimed.
A study has found that nine in 10 British staff consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity levels.
Meanwhile, only 77% feel that financial incentives were a key motivator.
Regions where flexible working is more popular, such as London and the south-east of England, generally see the highest levels of productivity in the UK.
In contrast, only 18% of employees in Wales, where productivity levels are lower, are offered the opportunity to work flexible hours – suggesting that companies providing a better work/life balance may be paving the way for a more productive workforce as employees feel more motivated.
The most productive sector – the professional services industry – is likeliest to offer employees flexible hours, with 36% of professional services employees saying it is available.
But in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry, where one in four workers are not offered benefits or perks of any kind (including flexible working), productivity is lowest.
However, less than a third of British businesses currently offer flexible working.
Far from being an attitude associated only with younger workers, flexible working is valued most by 35-44 year olds of whom 59% value the opportunity ‘a great deal’, compared to just 47% of under-35s.
Almost one on five employees who took part in the study commissioned by HSBC bank cite poor work/life balance as a reason for leaving their last job.
Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking at HSBC UK, said: “Our research shows that, for an overwhelming number of workers, a more flexible way of working is more motivating than financial incentives.
"Today’s workforce wants a better balance between their work and home lives – and companies that are recognising and making provision for this are creating happier and more productive workplaces, which in turn is translating to the bottom line.”
One manufacturer, Avec UK, said: "The wellbeing of our employees is the most important thing to us, so we have a number of informal flexible working arrangements in place to help our employees balance their commitments both inside and outside work.
"Not only does this help create a better environment, it shows our employees that we value and care for them, which helps contribute towards a more motivated and engaged workplace.
"And it seems to be working for us – in the last year we have more than doubled our turnover, with further significant growth already planned into 2018 and onwards. If businesses focus on looking after their employees, they are more likely to be motivated, happier and loyal to the company – which has a strong impact on their output.”
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