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62% of employees report inadequate flexible working tools

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39% of organisations reporting losing employees to companies who offer flexibility

Unit4, the cloud applications organisation, has announced the people and HR-related findings of its second annual Business Future Index.

The report surveyed 3,450 respondents across 12 global markets in order to understand how much people, policy and technology changes have accelerated over the past 12 months with the Index revealing significant concerns with flexible working strategies, despite a dramatic acceleration in its adoption. With competition for talent growing, there is a danger that failure to improve working policies and implement the right tools could lead to more employees choosing those employers who offer a more flexible approach.

The index found that 76% of respondents said that flexible working policies need improvement and 62% agreed that the tools to support flexible working are not adequate. A mere 18% of respondents said that they experience a flexible working policy without any restrictions with 39% of organisations reporting losing employees to companies who offer flexibility.

Attracting and retaining talent (62%) remains the biggest priority for organisations over the next 12 months, as talent shortages continue.

Flexibility important but implementation inconsistent

The Business Future Index found that 92% of respondents stated that their organisations have now adopted some form of flexible working policy. However, it also revealed that there is much work to be done to apply these policies more equitably and ensure employees have the right framework and tools to enable such approaches. For example, the Index discovered that 37% of people work flexible hours, such as working from 9am – 3pm, then made up time in the evening with 31% working a completely flexible hybrid model (office and home based). Of the respondents, 31% stated that they are mandated to spend a proportion of time in the office (for example, a certain number of days per week).

While the reasonably even split between the different types of flexible working is understandable given that not every organisation can offer complete remote working, other data suggests an imbalance in how such policies are applied. While 55% say flexible working applies to all employees, more than a third (35%) said it only applies to some employees dependent on job role, and 9% suggested it depends on the manager’s discretion applying only to some employees. Given that less than one fifth of employees experience flexible working without restrictions, there is still some way to go to improve such policies and, therefore, it is critical organisations move quickly to avoid loss of talent.

Big drivers for workforce strategies: recruitment, diversity and technology

According to the Index, attracting and retaining talent remains the top priority for all organisations across the globe in the year ahead, but the Index revealed further challenges impacting workforce strategies, that included staff retention, ESG credentials and diversity, with only 25% of organisations planning to improve diversity within the business.

Re-skilling talent (51%) and implementing a successful flexible/hybrid working policy (50%) also made it onto the list of top business priorities, compounded by 51% who believe that the real need to enhance talent strategies will hinder their ability to achieve their objectives.

Tania Garrett, Chief People Officer, Unit4 commented: “Given the need to attract a broad spectrum of talent into organisations from different demographic groups to meet demand for skills, the Business Future Index shows businesses must make diversity a higher priority. Along with investing more in reskilling their existing workforce to help meet future requirements, the Index clearly shows there is a close correlation between investment in innovative technologies and a positive impact on recruitment and retention.”

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