Flexible working is most valued benefit for UK workers

Flexible working is the most valued benefit for UK employees, ahead of material perks such as bonuses, research revealed today.

In a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 1,167 workers, 47% rated flexible working arrangements as the most important benefit above performance-related bonuses, which came second (19%).

Flexible working was given fairly equal priority by men and women, with 41% and 54% respectively ranking this benefit the most valuable. Moreover, a better work-life balance was seen as more achievable in the long term by 42% respondents than vastly increased responsibility and salary (39%).

The report, Managing Tomorrow’s People, showed that a good company pension plan was the favoured perk for 15% of respondents, making it the third most popular benefit. Benefits of less significance were paid time off to do social/humanitarian work (7%), exposure to advanced networking/social activities (6%); and paid training and development (6%).

Respondents were clear about their future employer. Exactly half would prefer to work for themselves. Almost one-third would like to be employed by a company whose values match their own, while the remaining 20% want to work for an elite company that employs only the best.

Michael Rendell, head of HR services at PwC, said two years of recession have changed people’s attitude towards work.

“With companies mindful of taking on new employees, existing staff have been expected to do more with less,” he said. “Our survey indicates that employees may be feeling the pressure, with large numbers hoping for a better work-life balance in the future, and half saying they would rather work for themselves.”

With bonuses unpredictable in uncertain economic conditions, employees are looking for broader benefits, Rendell added.

“Companies that can adapt to the UK’s growing flexible-working culture will be best placed to sustain morale and retain top talent when the job market becomes more buoyant,” he said.

The coalition government has committed to extending the right to request flexible working to all staff, although it has yet to announce a timetable for the change.

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