According to a survey of 2,000 adults and 500 businesses by a think tank run by Scottish Windows called the Centre for Modern Family, more than a fifth of employees without children said parents already receive better support than they did.
However, most companies declined considering offering more flexibility in the near future, even though some 65 per cent of businesses acknowledged that flexibility does increase productivity and wellbeing in the workforce.
More than 70 per cent of medium-sized companies (50-249 employees) said they would never consider offering full-time working from home. The majority thought this would be logistically too difficult to implement, while over a third worried it would have a negative impact on the business.
Over 50 percent stated they already give more flexibility and support to mothers with young children. But the numbers dropped for dads, who are supported by only 35 per cent of companies.
Older workers and other employees who may have caring and volunteering responsibilities or a desire to attend additional training or classes outside work were given even less support, with 26 and 34 per cent respectively.
Chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, Anita Frew, said that while businesses appeared to be taking steps towards meeting the needs of parents in the workplace, barriers existed when it came to extending policies to support employees more widely.
“Although employers have taken promising steps towards offering more flexible working hours, there is still work to be done to ensure these policies are being rolled out to all employees,” she said.
“Our economy depends on a skilled and motivated workforce that functions productively, and our best hope of achieving this is through encouraging employers to adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce,” she added.
The study showed that medium-sized businesses struggled the most. More than 20 per cent said they do what is legally required of them in terms of flexibility for families, but not any more than this for other employees.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper, CMF panellist and professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School said, “Flexible working is no longer something to be viewed as reserved for working parents, but something that will help increase the wellbeing of all employees. Finding ways to open these opportunities more widely – to those with other commitments such as caring for a family member, attending a training course or regularly playing for a sports team – will go a long way towards retaining top talent,” he said.
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