For the first time since the recession more than half (51%) of companies expect to hire more staff in the next year. Almost all firms (97%) see flexible employment patterns such as zero hours contracts and the use of agency workers as either vital or important to the economy.
Respondents, who employ more than a million people between them, said such tools enable companies to cope with fluctuating demand (87%), respond rapidly to growth opportunities (81%) and provide a stepping stone into work for people vulnerable to long-term employment (58%). In addition, 68% said flexibility offers choice to people who do not want full-time work.
The survey, On the up, found that 87% allow remote, mobile or home working for at least some staff and 86% of businesses had at least some staff on non-standard hours as a result of seasonal working, compressed hours, job sharing or flexi-time. In addition, 85% of businesses use multi-skilling to boost employee productivity.
However, the main obstacle to flexible working practices is ensuring the corporate infrastructure is appropriate to meet the challenge of changed working arrangements – 62% said this is an issue. Changing the mindset of managers to manage new approaches is also a problem, reported by 58%, and 41% said the mindset of employees was also a barrier.
Inflexible working practices were also named as a threat to UK labour market competitiveness by 32% of companies, behind the burden of regulation, low skill levels, EU regulation and uncompetitive labour costs.
The report said: “Modern employment relationships in the UK are characterised by flexibility and choice in a variety of forms. This benefits businesses and employees alike – and it’s an essential ingredient in helping the UK to attract international investment and talent.”
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