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Wellbeing & Benefits

Nearly 40% of people who have flexible working state it has given marked improvements in their mental health, Wildgoose survey finds.

Wildgoose − experts in team building and workforce morale − conducted a survey of workers aged 45 or under to ask their thoughts on flexible working. Employees from 114 companies from all backgrounds gave their answers anonymously. The results highlight the reasons employees are looking for flexible workplaces.

14.3% of employees not currently allowed to work flexibly indicated that they are actively considering a career move to an organisation that would offer them flexible working. This figure rises to 21% of parents in the same situation.

With 62% of employees taking days off in the past year for mental health reasons, many employers want to do more to support mental health in the workplace. Flexible working is well publicised, though employers should start by understanding why their employees want flexible working for a better work/life balance.

Selecting the personal and professional reasons for their company to start offering flexible working as a way to improve employee lifestyle, the majority of respondents stated that it would help maintain a good work-life balance (70%). Second most prevalent reason was being reassured if an urgent situation arose, it could be resolved without affecting work (53%), followed by feeling as sense of value and trust from the employer (43%).

The findings of the survey highlight the importance of work/life balance and how crucial it is for employers to keep up with this demand, or risk losing staff.

The Wildgoose survey results gives further insights into why flexible working is a priority for employees, including:

Benefits for mental health:

  • 39% of the people surveyed who work flexibly see a noticeable improvement in their mental health.
  • The benefit of flexible working that 70% were most grateful for was it provides them with a good work-life balance. This is something that a similar number (69%) of those without flexible working crave.

Benefits for working parents:

  • 68% of parents (who can work flexibly) feel it’s vitally important in helping them to juggle both work and family life.
  • 51% of those without flexible working want the ability in order to ease childcare pressures

Reasons to make immediate corporate change:

  • 4% of those who do currently work flexibly cannot work without it and would leave their job were this taken away from them.
  • 9% of people who currently don’t have access to flexible working, suggested that having the ability to do so would allow them to maintain or even boost their productivity levels.

Looking at the results of this survey, it has become crucial that companies recognise the rapidly changing workplace and the value of flexible working. It’s not just good for employees’ mental health − it makes good business sense.

Commenting on the survey findings Jonny Edser, Founder and Managing Director of Wildgoose said: “The results from our survey highlight the real benefits that adopting flexible working can offer to both employees and employers. At Wildgoose, we understand that everyone has a life outside of work that doesn’t always fit around the typical 9-5. Trusting your employees to work at times that suit them is fundamental to maintaining productivity and employee wellbeing. If companies value the contribution their staff bring to the table, then giving them the freedom to flex their working hours is a no-brainer when it comes to keeping them.”

Workforce health and business sense

For most companies the two main costs are staff (including staff desk space) and property. Flexible working will allow companies to increase their bottom line by making savings on desk space and rent.

In making sure that no more than 60% of its staff are in at one time, Lambeth Council says it saves millions of pounds in property running costs per year. While just under 60% of Barclays staff work flexibly with those who do expressing greater job satisfaction.

Harriet Shurville, People Director at McCann London, states: “Flexible working is gradually becoming common practice rather than a nice-to-have, for businesses in every sector. This is great news, considering the benefits it brings to businesses and their people. With this research now revealing around 14% of employees would consider leaving their job over not being offered flexible working, and 30% saying they would leave if it was taken away from them, the potential loss for businesses is hard to ignore.

“Until formal procedure is adopted, there are a number of ways that employers can provide flexible-style working from core hours. It’s imperative if businesses are going to attract and retain best-in-class talent.”