There is a potential impending ‘flexidus’ amongst women in the UK workforce, according to new research from LinkedIn.

A staggering 52 percent say they have considered leaving, or have left, their role due to a lack of flexibility.

Of the women who have left a job because of a lack of flexible working, more than one in five (21%) say their career progression has been hindered, and 25 percent decided to take a career break as a result.

A further 28 percent have observed more men requesting flexible working options since the pandemic.

However, nearly two-thirds (65%) of hiring managers note that women have become more confident to ask for greater flexibility since COVID-19.

 

A disconnect between employer and employee

Women’s desire to have more flexible working conditions comes despite 80 percent of UK businesses saying they have improved their workplace policies since the pandemic to offer employees greater flexibility – exposing a clear disconnect.

This is further reflected by the fact that nearly three-quarters (73%) of hiring managers believe that employees are largely satisfied with their company’s flexible working offering, and another 78 percent say their company offers employees enough flexibility for them to balance personal commitments outside of work.

“While it’s been heartening to see many businesses bolster their flexible working policies since the pandemic, there is clearly a disconnect between what companies are offering and what women want and would find most helpful,” says UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, Janine Chamberlin.

“It’s important that businesses continue to listen to employees’ needs – otherwise they risk talented women finding opportunities elsewhere or leaving the workforce entirely. As we redesign workplaces for a new world of work, we must ensure flexibility is at the core and that it works for everyone,” adds Ms Chamberlin.

 

What are the preferred flexible working options?

The top three most helpful policies according to women surveyed are:

  1. Flexible start and finish times (74%)
  2. Increased annual leave/holiday allowance (71%)
  3. A four-day working week determined by employees (68%)

The research also highlights a desire from women to have the ability to work remotely on set days determined by employees (61%), compared to 48 percent of men.

 

What are the benefits of offering flexible working?

Chief HR Officer at Zurich UK, Steve Collinson, highlights that people are looking for flexibility for a whole range of reasons. These may include “parental caring responsibilities right through to portfolio careers and further education.”

“We’ve gone further than just allowing people to flex their hours, we offer pretty much every advertised role on a potential part time or job share basis which has helped increase the number of women applying for roles and being hired into senior positions,” says Mr Collinson.

“This has also led to double the number of part time hires which means we’ve opened ourselves up to a whole new pool of talent. The icing on the cake is that overall applications have risen by two thirds. We believe this is about people looking to work for a business which offers the benefits they may want in the future or simply have shared values with them,” adds Mr Collinson.

“The increased normalisation of flexible working is a huge step forward for gender equality. Whilst women benefit enormously from working from home arrangements and flexible hours, as well as other forms of flexibility such as career breaks and enhanced annual leave, it is crucial that flexible working is accessible to everyone as we shouldn’t have to justify our need for this based on gender. Companies that offer flexible working to all, without request processes requiring individuals to state the “need” for it, are the ones that are creating true equity in the workplace,” highlights Founder of Flexa Careers, Molly Johnson-Jones.

 

Editor at HRreview

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.