SME managers 'need greater flexibility'
Eighty-one per cent of small and medium business managers have experienced negative consequences as a result of devoting too much time to the business, rather than to other areas of their life, according to a survey for Avaya.
And 83 per cent of these say flexible working has helped ease these sorts of problems for them personally, signalling that businesses can aid employees in improving their work-life balance and productivity significantly through flexibility-boosting communications tools.
The findings of the survey of 700 senior managers in the UK and Germany reveal that the consequences suffered go beyond the typical daily stresses of office life. While well over half (56%) endure stress, a third (33%) have suffered from poor health; over a quarter (27%) of people admit to marriage or relationship problems and a tenth say their dedication to work has actually resulted in divorce or separation. Furthermore, almost a fifth (18%) of parents admit to missing out on their kids’ school activities such as sports days and awards ceremonies, as a result of an inflexible work regime.
Avaya, which provides business collaboration and communications solutions, says these figures suggest that, although businesses have made great strides in helping employees to achieve a better work-life balance through flexible working policies, the practice is not as prevalent as it should be. Over three quarters (76%) of SMEs offer employees some degree of flexible working, yet overall people spend an average 74% of their working week chained to their desks.
“It is a very positive sign that over three quarters of small businesses offer flexible working, but the fact that the average employee spends the vast majority of their working week office-bound suggests there is still a major disconnect between flexible working being an option for employees, and it actually becoming a habitual way of working,” said Michael Bayer, President, Avaya EMEA. “Where businesses clearly recognise and understand the benefits, they now need to put the tools and solutions in place to make it have a real impact on peoples’ lives.”
Previous research from Avaya has shown that increased flexibility in the workplace greatly helps to boost productivity through increased employee efficiency, generating financial benefits for businesses of all sizes. In addition, businesses that offer flexible working can benefit from better talent retention rates and higher levels of employee loyalty.