A recent survey has revealed that 67% of employees have missed major life events due to a lack of flexible working within their organisation.
The survey conducted by workplace wellbeing organisation Liberty Mind, was created to fully understand the impacts on employees who do not have the opportunity of flexible working.
From those surveyed it was found that a staggering 40% had missed hospital or health-related appointments due to a lack of flexible working, while 15% had missed moving house, 10% had missed a child’s school activity and 8% had missed a family funeral.
Furthermore, 83% of employees have been made to feel guilty by their employers for taking time off for a major life event.
Despite the Governments Flexible Working Policy being introduced in June 2014, there has been little inquiry as to the number of employers which have embraced the policy; with no full Government review or independent commission as to the number of organisations actioning the policy.
The Flexible Working Policy may be in place, but that doesn’t mean it is actioned or supported in all organisations.
Therefore, The Employee Reality survey conducted by Liberty Mind was designed to fully understand the impacts on people who do not have access to flexible working, and how their lives have been affected by the restrictions of rigid working hours.
Life events, meaning a situation that affects interpersonal relationships and recreational activities, was found to be a key area in which employees found significant difficulty when there is a lack of flexibility offered within an organisation.
When asked how flexible working could benefit their lives, 44% of employees say that flexible working would help them to feel less stressed, while 13% say that flexible working would help them to care for a loved one.
Discussing the findings, Founder of Liberty Mind, Lizzie Benton, commented that;
“Major life events play a significant role in our emotional and mental wellbeing, and the relationships connected to these have a critical impact on our wellbeing, so why are we creating organisations that are limiting them?”
According to the Organization of Economic Development, the UK currently ranks 29th in the work-life balance index. A staggering position considering that the UK is a developed nation.
The common term ‘work-life balance’ itself, shows just how much as a society we have separated life from work. Life matters, but to many businesses, it is seen as an acceptable notion to separate the two.
“Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”. These are the famous words of British factory owner Robert Owen who in 1817 began the 40-hour work week.
While this was revolutionary in the 1800’s, we are now in 2018, and still working hours that were set to support factory labourers.
At present, the UK is conforming to what has been done in the past; but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do things. As author Douglas Coupland has said, “I think one day we’re doing to look back at 9 to 5 and we’re going to think about it in the way we currently do about child labour in the 19th century.”
In The Employee Reality survey, it was found that 87% of employees have considered changing jobs because their current employer does not offer flexible working.
The ‘presence based work’ employers have become accustomed to across the UK, is an outdated mindset that believes if employees are not in an office for eight hours, they cannot possibly be doing their best work. But do people need exactly 8 hours to accomplish work?
In many instances people are compelled to fill their time rather than be the most productive with it.
“The avoidance of finding a flexible working approach in any organisation is not because flexible working doesn’t work for all industries; it is because leaders are not passionate enough about finding a solution that works for their people and their business.”
Commented Lizzie Benton, from Liberty Mind.
The full data found by Liberty Mind has been summarised in a whitepaper ‘Flexible Working – The Employee Reality’, and aims to highlight to organisations the detrimental effects to employees wellbeing when flexible working is restricted.