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Over one in five UK private sector employees are too afraid to discuss flexible working with their boss because they think they will say no, according to a new report.
Aviva’s Working Lives report, based on interviews with 1,500 private sector employers and 6,000 private sector employees, shows those aged 35-49 are the most likely not to request flexible working despite the challenge some in this age group may face with juggling work and family life. Nearly one in four (24%) say they don’t start a conversation for fear of rejection.
However, of those 54% who have initiated a conversation, 79% had their request accepted. Some 64% of private sector businesses say they already offer the opportunity for flexible working. Moreover, two in three employers think the private sector workforce will work more flexibly in five years’ time and over half of all private sector employees say they already do so, either regularly or occasionally, within their role.
More than half of businesses reported flexible working increases productivity and more than two thirds believe it makes their employees happier.
Flexible working also helps with retention and recruitment with almost two thirds of employees admitting they are more likely to stay with an employer who offers it, and when it comes to hiring the best talent, more than one in three employees identify flexible working as a deal breaker when considering a new job.
Almost two in five employees cite increased happiness as one of the top three outcomes from working flexibly. One in three also identify being able to more effectively manage their responsibilities outside of work as one of the top three outcomes.
Gareth Hemming, director of SME insurance at Aviva UK, said: “The fact that our research suggests some employees are too afraid to ask for flexible working options suggests there is still some work to be done to create an open culture where employees can feel able to have conversations with their employers.”