Jun 13, 2023
Preferred Working Arrangements - what's on offer vs. what candidates want
The three bank holidays during May have provided the UK with something of an experiment into how a 4-day working week could be managed.
The usual spring bank holidays along with the extra bank holiday in honour of the coronation of King Charles has given not only employees some insight into the benefits of a four-day work week, but employers too.
4-Day Working Week UK Already Popular
A recent YouGov poll of 1,028 corporate decision-makers discovered that a majority of British business leaders are already in favour of shortening the work week as it could ‘significantly improve’ the country's productivity. A total of 34% of those surveyed ‘strongly supported’ the idea, while another 30% were ‘somewhat supportive’.
Only 15% of the YouGov respondents were ‘strongly opposed’ to the four-day working week UK. Also, while the May bank holidays might be an unofficial 4-day working week experiment, an actual study has already been conducted with significant success. A total of 61 UK-based organisations recently reduced staff working hours by 20% with no loss in pay, and only five of them have since chosen to return to the five-day work week.
This is all very interesting for hiring managers as it is a strong indication of how candidates are feeling about their preferred working arrangements. To gain some deeper insight into this issue, we conducted some research of our own.
Working Arrangement Preferences of Candidates
During the research for our recent Salary Guide for 2023, we asked respondents about the working arrangements that are offered by their employer, as well as asking which arrangements employees prefer the most.
We asked our candidate pools for their thoughts on;
- Flexible working hours
- Hybrid working (mix of remote and office working)
- Full-time remote working
- Full-time office/on-site working
- Four-day work week
- Overseas working
We asked which working arrangements were currently offered by the respondents’ employers, and which working arrangements candidates prefer to be offered. The results have been arranged by specialism as you can see below and [spoiler alert] both flexible working hours and hybrid working scored highly. Interestingly, the amount of employers already offering such working arrangements was also pretty high, though still some way behind the amount of candidates naming them as their most preferred options.
Here’s a quick run through our findings:
Procurement and purchasing
54.76% of employers offer hybrid working Vs 71.43% of employees surveyed said it was their most preferred working option. 45.24% of employers offer flexible working Vs 50% of employees surveyed named it as a preferred working arrangement.
The only option offered by employers that scored a lower percentage according to the candidates’ preferences was working full-time in the office. It is currently offered by 28.57% of employers, but only 16.67% of candidates named it as a preference.
7.14% of employers offer a 4 day working week vs 33.33% employees surveyed preferred this.
The supply chain department threw up an interesting stat, with hybrid working currently offered by 67.99% of employers, and the same amount of candidates naming it as a preferred option. There was some disparity when it comes to flexible working hours though, with only 36.02% of employers currently offering it while 58.01% of employees said they would prefer this.
Again, employers tended towards offering on-site working at 36.01%, while only 7.99% of candidates named it as a preference. Candidates also preferred the idea of a 4-day work week with 37.99% choosing it, but only 7.99% of employers currently offer it.
Logistics, transport and warehousing
Employers and candidates were much closer when it comes to hybrid working in the logistics, transport and warehousing specialism. Just over 41% of employers currently offer it in this area, while nearly 50% of candidates chose it as a preferred working arrangement. Flexible working hours were offered by just over 28% of employers, while close to half of the surveyed candidates chose it as a preferred option.
The 4-day working week UK is clearly not popular among employers in these departments, with only 4.67% currently offering it. However, it's important to remember that most logistics employees are required to work on-site in order to fulfill their role responsibilities. Despite this requirement, it's worth noting that a significant 32.71% of candidates in these departments have expressed a preference for the 4-day working week. This disparity between employer offerings and candidate preferences highlights the potential impact on attracting potential employees, as some may be deterred by the absence of this preferred working arrangement.
Buying and merchandising
Candidates in the buying and merchandising field scored the highest for choosing hybrid working as a preferred option, with nearly 90% selecting it. Luckily for many of these candidates, many employers do offer it as an option too, with nearly 70% confirming they currently offer hybrid working arrangements which is the highest amount across all of the specialisms we surveyed. Flexible working hours were also popular among buying and merchandising employees as nearly 70% chose it, while just over 40% of employers currently offer it.
Interestingly for hiring managers in this area, zero percent of candidates chose in-office working as a preferred option. However, over 60% did choose the 4-day working week as a preferred working arrangement.
HR and people
HR departments seem to be adopting a lot of hybrid working with a little over 60% of employers currently offering it, compared to over 67% of candidates who prefer it. Flexible hours not so much, as only 30.23% of employers offer it even though over half of the candidates surveyed chose it as a preferred option.
The 4-day working week is where it gets interesting for HR, as a significant 41.86% of candidates chose it as a preferred working arrangement in this function. However, 0% of the surveyed employers currently offer it, which is likely due to the interaction with other employees required in this field.
If your employer isn’t offering your preferred working arrangement, why not explore other positions with CAST UK? Get in touch to start your career search with us.