UK businesses struggling to support flexible work

Research reveals that as hybrid becomes the norm, a clear majority of firms say the pandemic caused them to re-evaluate what they value in the workplace

The challenges of the pandemic have driven and are continuing to drive employees restless, yet just over three in five employees in the UK don’t believe their company’s policies and technologies effectively enable flexible work, according to research from SAP Concur.

The Employee Experience Campaign research questioned 1,700 employees, taking a closer look at the way employee expectations have shifted.

It revealed that 90% of respondents indicated that their work can be done virtually, and that 87% prefer to work virtually most of the time, feeling that they should be able to decide where and when they work. Employers would like to follow suit, as more than 50% of executives expect to work remotely at least some of the time in the next two years, but only 42% agree that the technology their company has in place will be able to support flexible work.

In addition, 60% of employees agree that the pandemic caused them to re-evaluate what they want in the workplace. An overwhelming majority of staff (78%) now believe that employers are responsible for their job satisfaction and well-being, meaning that creating a better employee experience is essential to support flexible work while also increasing employee productivity.

Employees basically want flexibility. As many as 90% of respondents indicated their work can be done virtually, and 87% said they would prefer to work virtually most of the time. Yet at the same time, businesses were facing optimisation challenges: only 38% of employees agree that their company’s policies and technologies effectively enable flexible work.

Another key trend was that workers and customers were prioritising their values and seeking out organisations that are aligned. As a result of this, employers around the world are working to prioritise employee expectations.

With 76% of millennials saying that environmental ethics are a huge concern for them and 65% of workers saying they are more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies, working to be more sustainable is one way to engage employees.

Read more about the new normal of work

SAP Concur stressed that as over 40% of the global workforce considered leaving their employer in 2021, employers need to have the technology and policies in place so that employees can work from home full-time.

“Every business wants happy employees and any businesses that fails to provide its employees with the flexibility and tools they require risk losing talent to their competition,” said Matt Clementson, enterprise head of sales for UK and Ireland at SAP Concur UK.

“To ensure the success of their organisation’s hybrid working model, the next generation of employee experience must be made better through intelligently automated and simplified processes.

“A connected digital experience can help to shift processes and protocols while also protecting employees’ valuable time, limiting the amount of manual work that distracts from more important tasks,” he said. “Digital tools and resources will replace frustrating steps and make old processes quick and simple, and in time this can help to protect the company’s financial future.

“Additionally, implementing technology in the workplace can help the business focus on key matters such as sustainability,” said Clementson.

“Monitoring carbon emissions digitally, for example, can be used as an initiative to become ‘greener’ while also giving staff full visibility, which will boost employee confidence and trust in the company. Technology can help to improve productivity, and workplace culture, creating the desired employee experience.”

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