Wanted: Good working hours and flexible options say 50% of UK workforce


New research from SD Worx, Europe’s leading HR and payroll service provider, reveals that 47% of workers rank working hours and flexible forms of working as the top two considerations when it comes to choosing a place of work.

Based on a survey of over 4,000 companies in the UK and across Europe, the findings highlight major employee expectations as employers continue to step up initiatives to attract, hire and retain top tier talent.

With many building out the breadth of recruitment drives and casting the net wider than ever, businesses are increasingly pivoting under pressure to convince candidates of their credentials. It’s against this backdrop that companies are waking up to the value of HR data and analytics, with 61% of UK companies alone using HR and people analytics to gain insights into key areas such as staff shortages, absenteeism and reporting.

With the ball firmly in employers’ courts to build attractive offers for employees with flexible offers and digital working solutions to improve the employee experience – all while keeping up productivity – data and insights are presenting new opportunities to revamp company culture for the new working world.

Data for smarter workforce management

It is clear that companies are starting to feel the benefits of deploying data, with many now leaning into data on absences (44%) and working times (44%) when completing staff reporting tasks, to provide a better overview of workforce efficiency and productivity – but who is leading the charge across Europe?

As a whole, 69% of European employees consciously keep track of their working times, and 55% use a time management system to do so. In Norway (56%), Spain (54%), Germany (53%), Sweden (53%), Finland (51%) and Italy (46%), it is particularly common for employees to use an existing system to monitor their working times. However, the figure is significantly lower in the Netherlands (33%) and France (32%).

However, it’s not only quantitative data that’s important for efficient workforce planning and reporting. Qualitative data such as an overview of skills, talents and expertise, also works to ensure that employees can utilise their talents across other business areas which can create new opportunities for career development. One in three companies (29%) already keep qualitative data on talents and skills, being led by businesses in Ireland (38%), Finland (38%) and France (35%), while Dutch (23%), Swedish (22%) and Norwegian (20%) companies are less likely to store this data.

Employees in the driving seat

When it comes to logging productivity data, one in three European companies use employee self-service tools (ESS) to enable staff to enter and manage their own data. This investment allows employees to manage their own working hours and identify how and where they used their time.  Employee self-service tools give employees the ability to not only register working hours (32%), but to log absence requests (33%), submit expenses (28%), and consult remuneration (24%).

This in turn, frees up HR departments to focus on core and high value activities, rather than waste valued time imputing productivity data manually. At present, ESS tools are most popular in the Nordic regions (30%) and Ireland (29%), with significantly lower levels in France (14%), Italy (14%) and Austria (15%).

Rachel Clough, UK Country Lead at SD Worx, comments: “Globally, we’re seeing employers lean into the value of HR data and analytics tools to support the habits and expectations of the new working world. At a time when businesses face a myriad of challenges – from winning the war on talent, to tackling rising costs and ensuring smooth employee relationships in a hybrid world – workforce management tools offer essential solutions to often complex business challenges.

In this current climate, gaining a firm overview of employee needs and business goals is critical.  Reliable, robust workforce management systems bring data and visibility to strategy, playing a key role in your decision making today while being there to help anticipate future working challenges.”