Study shows UK workers want to design their preferred work-life balance

Study shows UK workers want to design their preferred work-life balance

Study shows UK workers want to design their preferred work-life balance

Workers in the United Kingdom (UK) are ready to ‘design’ a better balance between their personal and professional lives – and having a boss who will support them is now an important differentiator in their employment choice.

According to a recent survey of 800 UK workers by recruitment specialist Kelly Services – conducted as part of a global study – about 75% consider work-life balance an attractive employer trait that would drive their decision to accept one job over another. This represents a dramatic increase from the 43% who felt the same way in 2012.

Notably, 39% of UK workers say they would be willing to sacrifice pay in return for more flexible work schedules, while almost one in five are happy with fewer job responsibilities.

“Workforce attitudes in the UK are changing dramatically,” said Karen Colfer, VP & Managing Director United Kingdom and Ireland Kelly Services.

“While talented individuals once chased greater pay and responsibility, today they are prioritising self-actualisation and work-life balance.

“It’s no longer an optional extra but a basic standard by which organisations are judged.”

Kelly has coined the name Work-Life Design to describe the modern workplace mindset that UK workers demand. In a surprise finding, its research shows that people crave a much wider range of options than flexible hours and the ability to work from home. For example:

  • 45% support strong organisational policies to restrict work or email access outside designated business hours, preventing work from creeping into personal time
  • 39% say employer wellness programs such as on-site fitness centres and stress-reduction activities such as yoga and meditation positively impact work-life balance
  • 37% value the opportunity to pursue innovative projects during work hours, potentially including volunteer or charity work
  • 47% believe that environmentally friendly work practices are a potential differentiator in choosing one employer over another.

Holiday time is particularly cherished by UK workers. A total of 28% believe employers should explicitly encourage workers to use their allotted holiday time, while 21% would like the opportunity to purchase additional vacation time (nearly double the global average).

The Work-Life Design mindset is popular among both men and women, and particularly Millennials (workers born from the 1980s onwards). The push is also strong among highly skilled workers in fields such as information technology, financial services and engineering.

Kelly’s report recommends six ways for UK employers to better manage their talent. These include making flexible working hours the norm; encouraging staff downtime; ensuring work is meaningful; helping people to keep skills current; creating a brand and culture to be proud of; and providing lifestyle support options such as subsidised day-care facilities.

“Today, people expect more from their jobs and working environments than ever before. Highly talented individuals have a choice of where and how they work, and more than one in three UK workers say they feel greater loyalty to their personal and professional networks than to their current employer,” Karen Colfer said.

“In an era when worker loyalty can no longer be taken for granted, the organisations primed to attract top talent are those whose healthy workplace culture is integral to their brand.

“It’s not just about offering entitlements to childcare support, sabbaticals and paid time off. Nowadays, people seek empowerment through a range of learning and personal development opportunities, wellness programs, mentoring and befriending initiatives, as well as the ability to volunteer and have a social impact through their work. 

“Savvy employers who can deliver this menu of options to their staff are more likely to win their loyalty.

“Quite simply, this is the benefit of allowing them to design the life that they want.”

Full Work-Life Design report can be downloaded here 

KGWI UK infographic