Flexible working is the most valued benefit for employees, proving far more popular than material perks such as bonuses, according to a new survey carried out in the U.K. by PricewaterhouseCoopers. A survey of 1,000 professionals found that flexible working arrangements were rated the most important benefit by almost half (47%) of those surveyed, with the second most popular benefit, performance-related bonuses, cited by just one in five (19%). Better work-life balance was seen as more achievable in the long term (by 42% of respondents) than vastly increased responsibility and salary (39%).
Two years of recession have changed people's attitude towards work. With companies mindful of taking on new employees, existing staff members have been expected to do more with less. The PricewaterhouseCoopers 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. Companies that can adapt to the U.K.'s growing flexible working culture will be best positioned to sustain morale and retain top talent when the job market becomes more buoyant.
As a 2009 study by U.K.-based consultancy Morgan Redwood found, the benefits of flexible working could be more tangible. Companies actively promoting a healthy work-life balance were found to have annual net annual earnings per employee of £32,769 compared to £26,557 for other organizations. The difference arises because better work-life balance results in reduced absenteeism, improved well-being and thus greater productivity.
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