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Flexible working failing to make a difference, say SME staff

The vast majority of SME employees feel the right to request flexible working has made little difference within their company, according to new research from Bupa.

Only six per cent of staff believe that the concept of flexible working has been adopted by their employers to improve working conditions where needed.

Less than a third (32 per cent) of SME employees are confident their boss would support them in the event of making a flexible working request.

A further 37 per cent of UK SME staff fear they could lose their job altogether if they were to request to work flexibly, suggesting that many small business owners are failing to embrace adaptability within their workforce.

Just nine per cent of SME workers said they had been asked what benefits they would actually appreciate by their employer, and just a quarter (29 per cent) of companies currently tailor any flexible working benefits to suit their staff.

Half of all employees surveyed believe companies underestimate the part that benefits have to play in the overall feel of any business, while 51 per cent feel that not offering benefits damages an employer’s attractiveness to new recruits.

SMEs that do offer the right employee benefits can foster a happy and motivated workforce.

Indeed benefits come second only to salary in terms of attracting employees to a new company, with 42 per cent rating benefits as the most important factor when choosing a job.

Richard Norris, SME director at Bupa, said: “While not every job or industry lends itself to flexible working, by supporting it where appropriate, leaders and managers can help attract talent and keep their workforce happy and productive.

“The power of the benefits package in attracting, motivating and retaining employees should not be underestimated.

“Those who do so, face the very real risk that talent could be lost to competitors.”

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