Most staff in non-managerial roles are denied flexible working options despite the passing of the Flexible Working Act, a new study has found.
Research by Wade Mcdonald revealed that just 13% of employees without management responsibilities are offered flexible arrangements, compared to one in four (35%) of directors.
The HR recruitment company’s figures showed that while flexibility was the most valued benefit for nearly nine in 10 (88%) of all staff, including managers, few have access to it at work.
Of the 850 HR and finance professionals surveyed, one in five (20%) of non-managerial workers are required to attend the workplace every day, while a further two in five (40%) have to be in for two to three days a week.
The study showed that access to flexibility rose with seniority, at 17% for management, 19% for senior management and 25% for directors and above.
Wade Mcdonald pointed out the positive impact that flexible working arrangements can have on employee wellbeing, productivity and sustainability efforts is well recognised, and recent attempts to get people to give up hybrid working have not been successful.
Managing director Chris Goulding also highlighted that when recruiting he has noticed that full-time office and full-time remote positions are some of the hardest to fill. He said: “By factoring in how issues like long commutes and non-negotiable hours impact employee wellbeing, particularly those with disabilities or caring commitments, it’s understandable why employees would want the best of both worlds.
“Offering flexible working arrangements does not mean employees will always work from home. The choice is what makes the difference. Flexibility improves employee wellbeing and satisfaction, giving employees control over their time so they can thrive in and outside of work.”
Goulding believes that one reason lower-level staff have less flexibility is probably because senior leadership see in-person collaboration as the best way to initiate learning and development (L&D). However, he argues that companies should be agile and that this should not determine flexible working arrangements in the modern age.
He also thinks some leaders trust older staff more than younger members of the workforces more to avoid distractions and maintain productivity at home.
Goulding added: “A lot of the discussion we’re seeing in recruitment at the moment is about how difficult Gen Z is to manage and how they are less willing to work.
“This is of course a generalisation as many young people work hard and have a lot to offer but it’s important to factor in this bias when considering human decision-making. It will be interesting to explore future generational differences in the workforce to understand their impact on employee relations.”