Employees fear flexitime will hurt career

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The Independent Online

Flexiable working has failed to take off in Britain because many employees fear they will wreck their careers if they ask to work unusual hours, a study reveals today.

Flexiable working has failed to take off in Britain because many employees fear they will wreck their careers if they ask to work unusual hours, a study reveals today.

Two thirds of professional and managerial staff would like to work more flexibly, perhaps by putting in some hours at home, switching to a job-share, or working outside normal office hours.

But eight out of 10 workers believe that they will ruin their promotion prospects, and bring their careers to a full stop, if they are not present in the office five days a week, the research shows.

The finding comes despite mounting evidence that employees outperform their colleagues when they change their working patterns so that they can see more of their family or spend time on other interests.

Many companies have been convinced of the business benefits of flexible working, which include higher productivity, increased motivation and the ability to attract better staff.

But the new research shows that a "huge culture shift" is required before employees at middle and senior levels take advantage of "flexi-time" or "flexi-place" working patterns.

More than 400 marketing and personnel executives in the public and private sectors, earning between £30,000 and £100,000 a year, took part in the study, which was released at the start of Work-Life Balance week.

Most of the participants worked in a traditional, full-time way. One fifth were single, one third lived with a partner and the rest were married. About 40 per cent had children.

The findings show that as many men as women would now like to work flexibly. The demand among men reflects an "increasing dissatisfaction with the amount of time that they get to spend with their families", the report says.

But career progression is the main barrier, with 81 per cent of respondents believing that flexible working will harm their prospects.

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