Flexible working causing divide between leaders and employees

With the spotlight on flexible working as amendments to flexible working legislation have passed Royal Assent it seems the gap between employer and employee is widening in respect of expectations around working patterns.

A recent survey has found that 75% of executive leaders think they are already operating within a culture of flexibility, yet only 57% of employees said their organisational culture embraces flexible work. Just 41% of employees agreed that senior leadership acts in their best interest.  Furthering the divide, 76% of leaders think they have equipped staff with the resources to work virtually yet only 59% of employees said they had made the necessary investments.

The more that flexible working requests are made and refused, the more likely it is that employees will fail to buy in to future of work plans. Where there is a gap in thinking or expectation, business leaders must acknowledge this. Flexible work places don’t happen by accident – they are built following consultation and consideration of the various needs of a wide range of employees – carers, parents, remote workers and people with neurodivergent needs. 

By considering the differences in how flexibility is experienced, leaders will already make some progress in bridging the gap and making employees feel heard. If this flexible working gap is not addressed, businesses risk losing top talent. Employees increasingly feel that flexible work is a right, not a privilege, and leaders who feel differently risk alienating their workforce and damaging trust in leadership.  

Survey findings have suggested that a full return to the office resulted in some businesses losing up to 39% of their workforce.   By employing strategies like pulse surveys or focus groups, organisations will have a stronger understanding of where there is dissonance in their workforce.   

When the new legislation comes into effect, employees will be able to submit more than one flexible working request a year (which is currently law) and it is also expected that there will be a push to implement a day 1 right to request this.   If this is a subject you are grappling with, contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk  

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