Wednesday 26 November 2014 2:47 am

CBI: Employers must promote flexible working if they want to attract the best workforce

Businesses must do more to encourage flexible working as employees feel uncomfortable asking about the options available to them, the CBI has warned.

It said although some employers dismiss flexible working as an optional extra, it boosts productivity, encourages employee satisfaction and aids workplace diversity – which is why businesses must embrace flexible working in order to attract and retain the best staff.

The poll showed that:

The survey of 1,300 workers, published by YouGov, shows a number of worrying tensions when it comes to flexible working.

Around 42 per cent of employees feel uncomfortable asking their employer about flexible working options. This is despite nearly nine in 10 — or 85 per cent of respondents — being part of a workplace that offers these arrangements.

Both men and women were equally likely to be wary of broaching the subject with their employers. Again, this is despite 37 per cent of respondents saying they found balancing work and family life difficult.

And this is what the CBI wants:

Businesses must adopt values that naturally favour flexible working, and this should be evident even at the interview stage.

Additionally they should commit to meaningful diversity policies and show greater openness to ideas like job-sharing in more senior positions.

Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, said:

A lot of companies offer flexible working but the onus should be on businesses to presume in favour, challenge outdated assumptions and give their employees more confidence to ask about the options.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. That’s why we’re calling for businesses to encourage flexibility from the job ad onwards, as well as the government to help families with childcare costs.
These issues will be discussed at a CBI event with parenting network Mumsnet later today.