Results from the recently published Confederation of British Industry (CBI)/ Accenture Employment Trends Survey give considerable support for introducing and developing greater flexible working practises within UK businesses.
Some of the headline findings from the study include:
• 94% of UK businesses believe that flexibility is vital or important to the competitiveness of the UK’s labour market
• Businesses are ready to take the lead on eradicating the gender pay gap citing greater flexibility as the key to ensuring real change
• 56% of respondents believe that low levels of skills in the workforce will be the most significant threat of the UK’s competiveness in 5 years’ time.
• Respondents believe that maximising the use of talent is critical for success
• Businesses must lead the way on creating an inclusive and an engaged workplace
• 35% of businesses reported that employee engagement is their top priority in 2016
Flexibility and diversity within the labour force were viewed as the key to business success. Evolution of working practises and legislation is vital in order to achieve these goals.
Prevalence of flexible working
Flexible working away from the office and use of non-standard working hours arrangements were among the most common methods of flexible working being utilised by 73% and 63%, respectively, of the businesses that participated in the survey. These flexible approaches are considered to support enhanced productivity by enabling customer needs to be met outside standard hours, and aiding people to effectively combine work with other commitments.
Flexibility and staff engagement
In 2016 it has been predicted that competitive pressures and weak productivity growth will limit the scope for pay rises; meaning that businesses need to explore other more diverse strategies to engage and retain their staff. Having a personal interest in the work and effective line management are amongst the top ten drivers for employee engagement, as are flexible working practises and the opportunity to progress within a chosen career. The benefits of keeping the workforce engaged included improved retention, reduced absenteeism and an improvement in productivity and performance.
Flexibility and diversity
Flexibility plays a vital role in enabling workers from different backgrounds and from different circumstances to contribute at work.
The business case for diversity is clear. Having a diverse and inclusive workforce brings wider skill sets and broader experiences as well as having been shown to bring a clear competitive advantage¹. Some of the key obstacles to creating a more diverse workforce were listed as not enough people from diverse backgrounds within the industry, working culture and the loss of people at mid-career level, which is often due to taking on caring responsibilities.
Job prospects in 2016
There is growing optimism regarding job prospects with 43% of firms expecting to increase their workforces over the coming year and the number of permanent jobs is set to increase faster than temporary jobs.
The report is clear in encouraging businesses to step up to the task of seeking out new talent in a diverse workforce. It states that the difference between a business thriving or not will depend on how successful a business is at unlocking the talent within its workforce. It goes on to highlight that talent is too valuable to be wasted and UK businesses should have real interest in ensuing that as little as possible goes untapped.
Flexible Minds encourages employers to introduce flexibility from the outset of the recruitment process. Flexibility can offer an additional way of attracting and retaining the best talent and sought-after skilled specialists as well as injecting diversity within the workforce. In an increasingly competitive recruitment market offering flexibility will help you stand out as an attractive employer. In addition, it will open the vacancy to a wider pool of talent attracting applicants who might not have applied before flexibility was introduced.
Confederation of British Industry (CBI)/ Accenture Employment Trends Survey. The Path Ahead. December 2015: http://news.cbi.org.uk/news/job-creation-up-but-skills-shortages-rising-labour-costs-start-to-bite-cbi-accenture-survey/the-path-ahead/
¹ McKinsey, Diversity Matters, 2015 http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/why_diversity_matters