According to new research, published by Vodafone UK, UK commercial property companies are sharpening their attention on softer workplace benefits to attract and retain the best talent.
The report, ‘Exploring the shift in employee expectations’, demonstrates that flexible working is having a major influence on job satisfaction today, and is nowadays considered more important to UK workers than financial benefits such as a stake in the business, bonus schemes, pensions and perks.
The study, based on interviews with 1,366 senior managers and employees across UK commercial property organisations of all sizes, looked into the main influences on job satisfaction. It reveals that work-life balance (cited by 28 per cent of respondents) is virtually as important today as basic salary (cited by 30 per cent of respondents).
The study also reveals that only one in five workers is likely to seriously consider moving employer over the next 12 months. This chimes with the most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), which show that just 2.4 per cent of the UK workforce moved jobs in 2011, compared with twice this number over a decade ago. The stagnation in the talent pool is a problem for British commercial property businesses as the majority of businesses surveyed (eight out of ten) say that they now have to work harder than ever to attract and keep the best talent.
As employers battle to employ the best, the study shows that flexible working is evolving as one of the most valued weapons an employer can have.
Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK, Peter Kelly, commented: “Flexible working has gone from being a nice-to-have perk to now being at the heart of employees’ expectations. British business clearly understands that motivation and job satisfaction are more than about money-work-life balance and feeling supported at work are also vitally important. Finding better ways of working will strengthen an employer’s offer to potential new talent but will also enable current employees to find a work-life balance that suits them.”
Fifty per cent of all managers surveyed feel that offering flexible working opportunities makes them a more attractive prospect as a potential employer. Eighty-five per cent of managers believe that workers now expect more flexibility from the commercial property businesses they work for. UK commercial property businesses seem to be reacting to this expectation. For instance, three-fifths of organisations surveyed now provide the majority of employees with the technology to work from wherever they need to. This amount is slightly lower in commercial property SMEs (46 per cent), and slightly higher in larger commercial property organisations (63 per cent).
The positive bearing of new methods of working on organisational performance and the bottom line are also widely understood by managers. Nearly six out of ten managers consider such practices create a more productive organisation and see it as one of their top five benefits. Fifty per cent of managers believe such practices allow a more flexible workforce, and fifty four per cent of managers said flexible working saves on costs by reducing commercial office space requirements. When asked to rank the perceived benefits of flexible working to workers, managers put retention and enhanced employee satisfaction at the top of the list.
Employees are by the same token positive about the benefits of flexible working. Among those workers who are able to work remotely with full access to systems and colleagues, more than three-quarters say it increases their job satisfaction, and a similar proportion say that it improves their work-life balance.
Peter Kelly said: “Giving people the ability to work effectively wherever they are is a key element of building a better business. This not only has a positive effect on the bottom line, but also employees’ job satisfaction. Companies with the most satisfied workforces have been successful in embracing working and creating an environment where their employees have a better work-life balance.”