Many are saying that flexible working is ‘the new normal’ for firms; yet over half (52%) of working women in the UK have left or have considered leaving their role due to a lack of it. So, are employers offering the flexible work options women really want?
This question is explored in new LinkedIn research which is warning of an impending ‘flexidus’ of women who aren’t finding their job roles flexible enough, and is revealed in the alarmingly high 52% of women who have left jobs or are considering leaving due to this.
LinkedIn also found that lack of job flexibility for women is stalling their career progression; of women that have left a role due to lack of flexibility, 21% say their career progression has been affected, while 25% decided to take a career break as a result.
Interestingly, 80% of UK businesses disagree with these women about flexible working and say they’ve improved their policies, with 73% of hiring managers believing employees are mostly satisfied with their firm’s flexible working status. Another 78% say their company offers employees enough flexibility for them to balance outside personal commitments.
The disconnect between women’s views on flexible working and businesses themselves reveals differing views on what ‘flexible’ working looks like.
LinkedIn found the top three most helpful policies for women were flexible start and finish times (74%), increased annual leave/holiday allowance (71%), and a four-day week determined by employees (68%). The research also found that women want the right to work remotely on set days determined by employees (61%), compared to 48% of men.
While firms have been implementing more flexible working policies since COVID-19, when it comes to what women want, a strict hybrid working policy, such as two/three set days in the office per week, which is fast becoming the norm for businesses, isn’t necessarily the preferred option for women, who likely have caregiving duties to fit into their day.
Going forward, employers must look deeper into flexible working, explore its many forms, and crucially consult women and other underrepresented workplace groups about what works best for them via an employee survey.
Instead of implementing so-called flexible policies from the top of an organisation onto the workforce, bring women and other groups into the decision-making process, which can help them work to the best of their ability, and crucially, encourage them to remain in the organisation.
Janine Chamberlin, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn said: “While it’s been heartening to see many businesses bolster their flexible working policies since the pandemic, there is clearly a disconnect between what companies are offering and what women want and would find most helpful. It’s important that businesses continue to listen to employees’ needs – otherwise, they risk talented women finding opportunities elsewhere or leaving the workforce entirely. As we redesign workplaces for a new world of work, we must ensure flexibility is at the core and that it works for everyone.”
Steve Collinson, Chief HR Officer at Zurich UK added: “Flexible working has been an integral part of our business culture for almost a decade. For us, it spans every employee. We see people looking for flexibility for a whole range of reasons such as parental caring responsibilities right through to portfolio careers and further education. We’ve gone further than just allowing people to flex their hours, we offer pretty much every advertised role on a potential part-time or job share basis which has helped increase the number of women applying for roles and being hired into senior positions. This has also led to double the number of part-time hires which means we’ve opened ourselves up to a whole new pool of talent.”
In this article, you learned that:
- According to new LinkedIn research, over half (52%) of working women in the UK have left or have considered leaving their roles due to a lack of flexible working.
- In contrast; 80% of UK businesses disagree with these women about flexible working and say they’ve improved their policies, with 73% of hiring managers believing employees are mostly satisfied with their firm’s flexible working status.
- For women, the top three most useful flexible working policies, according to LinkedIn, are flexible start and finish times (74%), increased annual leave/holiday allowance (71%), and a four-day week determined by employees (68%).