Businesses should do more to encourage flexible working, the CBI has said.
Deputy director-general Katja Hall spoke out as a YouGov poll revealed men and women are reluctant to ask their employers for flexibility. While 40% said they would feel comfortable asking, 42% said they would not. This is despite the fact that nine in ten firms offer some form of flexible working.
The CBI is calling on businesses to advertise jobs flexibly from the outset and to publish aspirational diversity targets. It also says government needs to do more to provide help with childcare costs.
“Companies of all sizes rely on their people for success and want to make use of the best talents available. But many men and women who want to work, or work more hours, may feel rigid working patterns can conflict with home commitments,” said Hall.
“A lot of companies offer flexible working but the onus should be on businesses to presume in favour, challenge outdated assumptions and give their employees more confidence to ask about the options. Flexibility is not just for parents but for all staff. It can work for everyone including businesses.”
The survey was released to coincide with a roundtable hosted by the CBI and Mumsnet on what businesses can do to boost flexible working.
Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said: “All the evidence suggests that flexibility at work, and an acknowledgement of the importance of work-life balance, increases productivity among working parents and allows employers to retain talented staff who would otherwise struggle to cope with the demands of raising a family, not to mention the cost of childcare.”
Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, welcomed the CBI’s call to advertise jobs more flexibly. The charity has been campaigning for employers to use a strapline in their advertising to show jobseekers they are open to discussing flexibility.
“The lack of flexibility in how we organise work brings very real costs in lost skills and experience and a reduced talent pool for employers. We therefore advocate that employers should adopt a flexible-by-default approach to job design and recruitment,” she said. “All jobs should be advertised on a flexible basis unless there is a specific, good business reason not to. The government has the power to introduce this in the public sector whereas it would take legislation to get all private sector organisations to take it up. So we believe that in local and central government it should be adopted as soon as possible.”
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