One in four employees would sacrifice pay to keep working flexibly, poll finds

Survey reveals employees who would forgo wages are prepared to give up £2,000 per year on average for a better work-life balance

More than a quarter of employees would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant they could continue working remotely, a poll has found.

A survey of 2,000 people conducted by Indeed found 26 per cent would be willing to  sacrifice some of their salary if it meant that they could carry on working flexibly.

On average, those who would take a pay cut said they would forgo up to £1,949 per year if it improved their work-life balance.

And while parents with children under the age of 18 were more likely to say they would sacrifice pay for flexibility than those without caregiving responsibilities, both men and women were equally likely to say they would take a pay cut.

Deepa Somasundari, senior director of strategic projects at Indeed, said the pandemic had given millions of employees their first opportunity to work remotely, many of whom have enjoyed having more flexibility and control over the hours they worked.

She urged all employers to have “honest conversations” with their workforces about how they planned to approach flexible working going forward, acknowledging that “some jobs are more difficult to perform flexibly than others”.

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“Employers who may be resistant to flexible work should remember that a happy workforce is a more engaged and productive one, too, and allowing workers the opportunity to balance home life with work life will show that they value their overall wellbeing,” she said.

The Indeed research also found that relationships with coworkers had slipped down employees’ priority lists.

In 2019, before the pandemic, colleagues were ranked the fourth most valued element in the workplace, cited as important by two in five (40 per cent) of those polled. In 2021, this had more than halved to just 19 per cent.

This was supported by separate research that found one in three UK workers do not value the social interactions they get at work.

The YouGov poll of nearly 2,000 workers, conducted for Randstad, found 37 per cent of those polled found social interactions at work unimportant. This increased to 40 per cent for those over the age of 35.

Laura Todd, director of inclusion and wellbeing at Randstad, said organisations faced a significant challenge this autumn as they looked to bring workers back to the office, regardless of whether they plan for staff to return full time or under a hybrid model.

Rather than implementing “top down” approaches to encouraging staff back to the workplace, Todd suggested employers attempt a more collaborative approach. 

“In order to strike the right tone and create an engaged workforce, employers should work in consultation with employees to understand what elements of in-office and home working are valued,” she said.

Todd added that, despite the importance of mixing with colleagues being spurned by some, it was important for businesses to foster social interactions. “The pandemic has seen large numbers of people move jobs and socialising with colleagues is an important way of demonstrating the culture of an organisation and providing a forum to exchange ideas,” she said.