From education to employment

Flexible working ‘not so important’ for graduates when looking for work

Being offered flexible working by an employer is not seen as top priority among recent graduates, Wildgoose survey finds.

It was found that only 6% of respondents aged between 21-24 answered that being offered flexible working was ‘essential’ to them.

In comparison, the figure of those who thought flexible working was essential rose to 22% in 25-34 year olds, and rose again to 39% in 35-44 year olds.

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.

Those of ages between 21-24 also think that flexible working is ‘not so important’, with just over 1 in every 10 wanting other perks from a workplace.

This was the highest out of any age group.

Flexible working age split

Note: This is a still image, please see the Wildgoose Flexible Working Survey for interactive graphs.

The findings of the survey highlight the generational gaps in what is wanted from a workplace, and shows employers what is needed in order to attract the next generation of young talent to a company.

Looking at the overall picture, flexible working is something that is wanted by the majority of respondents. The Wildgoose survey results gives further insights into why flexible working may or may not be 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:

  • 30.4% of those who do currently work flexibly cannot work without it and would leave their job were this taken away from them.
  • 42.9% 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.

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. At McCann, we have introduced a number of measures such as working from home, a day off for your birthday and Summer Fridays from June to August, so everyone gets to leave the office early and enjoy a long weekend in the sun.”

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