Charities risk losing staff by ‘dictating’ flexible working arrangements, research warns

Staff are significantly more likely to be content at work when flexible working arrangements are not dictated to them, a survey has revealed.

By failing to offer staff the choice to choose their own flexible arrangements, such as the number hours they work and days required in the office, charities risk lowering satisfaction levels among their workforce and losing employees, it suggests.

The survey found that flexible working arrangements, including home working and four-day weeks, are commonplace across the charity sector following the Covid health crisis, with only 3% of workers spending five days in the office each week.

But in four in ten cases staff are required to spend a specific number of days in the office, which is reducing employee satisfaction levels.

In contrast satisfaction levels are significantly higher among the three in ten workers whose employer operates totally open, and worker led flexible working arrangements.

The survey by nfpResearch found that 75% of workers with freedom to choose their own arrangements are very satisfied with their working arrangements.

However, the proportion drops to just 29% among those where the number of office days is dictated to them.

“It would therefore seem that giving employees the freedom to work within their own preferences is the key to keeping them content,” said nfpResearch marketing coordinator Ben Roberts.

Why waste time commuting?

Comments made by respondents back this up, say researchers.

“My quality of life is vastly better now I am not commuting 3 hours a day and spending £400 a month on travel”, said one charity worker.

Another asked: “Why waste unnecessary time and money commuting?”

Meanwhile, one respondent noted how remote working had “expanded out talent pool” by becoming more “geographically diverse”.

The survey involved more than 100 charity workers, with a third working at charities with more than 200 staff. Almost half of those surveyed hold a managerial role and a quarter work for health charities.

More than a quarter of respondents work totally remotely and a similar proportion work only one day a week in the office. In addition, 23% work two days a week in the office, 14% spend three days and 3% are in the office four days a week.

“Though it may have felt experimental over lockdown, remote working seems to have quickly become a staple of working life, and increasingly, flexibility in this area is becoming an expectation of the workforce,” added Roberts.

“It’s not difficult to see why: the personal freedoms it provides are empowering to workers and can apparently boost productivity.”

An exclusive survey revealed by Charity Times this week found that staffing and recruitment is the biggest challenge facing just under half of chief executives in the sector.

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