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Are you communicating effectively about your flexible working options?

communicating effectively about your flexible working options

Payroll specialist PayFit recently conducted a survey of UK workers that returned some interesting facts and stats on the (literal?) value of flexible working policies.


We know that many employers have embraced some degree of flexible working practice since the Covid pandemic forced many of us to work from home. Many workers’ priorities and preferences changed over the lockdown period(s), and, in a lot of cases, infrastructure had been installed to facilitate remote working for them.


However, some global employers have famously insisted that employees return to the office for at least three days of a five-day week. These include tech giants Apple and Google. Others, like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan & Chase, have expressed their preference for in-person working, denying remote working as their “new normal” and stating that remote work does not work for younger employees and those early in their careers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has also gone on the record expressing his preference for not having a fully remote workforce, citing the importance of in-person collaboration.


But, what of PayFit’s survey? What do UK workers want in terms of their working practices? And do they feel they are getting it?


Not all, it would seem. Almost a third of respondents (32%) said that they were not happy with the flexible working policy offered to them by their current employer. A whopping 83% stated that their employer’s policy offering required improvement.


We wrote only last month about the importance of attracting and retaining top talent, and employees not feeling satisfied with their flexible working options is clearly not going to help with either.

The importance of offering flexible working options.
Flexible working options. No, not like that.


In fact, the PayFit survey found that almost half of all respondents would reject a 15% pay increase if it meant losing flexible work practices. And that’s in today’s challenging financial climate! It seems you really can put a value on flexibility at work.


From 6 April 2024, when the “Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill” comes in to force, the right to request flexible working will become a day one right, removing the current requirement for employees to have at least 26 weeks' service to make a flexible working request. This could potentially result in something of an exodus from companies that don’t offer enough flexibility to those that do.


Looking at the reasons behind employees’ dissatisfaction with flexible working in the PayFit survey, it seems that it’s a lack of trust, the need for greater transparency around flexible working, and a diminished sense of personal value that are to blame.


  • 25% of respondents said they needed more trust within their workplace

  • 34% reported that they felt uncomfortable requesting flexibility

  • 30% said they didn’t feel flexible working policies were embraced or encouraged


It seems to me that a lot of these issues could be resolved, or at least alleviated, with a robust communication strategy. Or even a carefully orchestrated comms campaign. There has been other recent research that shows many businesses do offer flexible working policies, as well as a slew of other benefits, but that these are either unknown to, or not properly understood by, all employees.


If you do offer flexible working policies within your organisation, do you need to promote these? Can you explain more clearly what is available, and better encourage their use? If a third of workers feel uncomfortable requesting flexibility, but half would turn down a 15% pay rise to sacrifice it, it seems that a comms campaign to explain, promote and encourage the use of flexible working would be time well spent.


There are many ways to do this. Of course, the facts and policy details need explaining, but if you are to really overcome that reluctance to request available flexibility, something a little more creative and engaging may be in order. Why not consider some short video case studies that showcase real employees and how they have embraced the policy to let flexibility enhance their work life?


(Incidentally, for the 25% of respondents said they needed more trust within their workplace, good internal comms is also instrumental in nurturing trust in the wider sense across our businesses. So, that’s another reason to health-check your comms if you think you have a potential issue with that across your workforce.)


new ways of working

If, on the other hand, you have dialled back a bit too far on flexible options since the end of the pandemic, is now the time for senior leaders to discuss what can reasonably be offered to boost the appeal of the business to its employees without, of course, negatively impacting the business or productivity? Of course, if revisions to policy are made, these will need communicating carefully and promoting widely. Once again, a specific comms campaign would be the best bet for this.


And if remote working really isn’t an option, for whatever reason, we shared some advice on how to persuade your employers back to the office the nice way last April. Some of that may still be useful now!


In short, this new survey has put a potential literal price on flexible working options, where they are appropriate. And it’s quite steep! If you do offer flexible options, it seems that now is the time to shout about them! Make sure that is a part of your comms strategy and consider a comms campaign to amplify the offering in the most engaging and persuasive way.


As ever, if you’d like some expert guidance on anything internal comms, we’d love to see how we can help.


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