Many companies were found wanting in terms of taking measures to boost employee engagement among staff who have been on sickness leave.
A study by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has discovered that two-thirds of employers did not take specific action to help ill workers get back into their roles.
Of those that did take such measures, the majority opted to stage meetings with staff members to discuss their needs, while a number also offered flexi-time arrangements.
Only a “slim majority” of bosses felt that offering health care provisions such as private medical insurance in an attempt to prevent absence was cost-effective.
The DWP survey also found that 61 per cent of respondents now offer flexible working arrangements and this was more prominent in larger corporations.
Research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development recently found that an increasing number of workers are now looking for new jobs that offer better pay and perks, rather than roles that give them more satisfaction.
A leading law firm has held a debate on the impact the government’s latest flexible working proposals will have on workplaces across the UK.
The head of Dickinson Dees’ small and medium-sized advice service Kudos, Neil Warwick, convened the discussion to address the impact of the major flexible working policies put forward by the coalition, reports the Journal.
At the top of the agenda was flexible working, which Whitehall is hoping to enshrine in employment law.
Currently, the legislation does not affect small businesses or start-ups, but this could change – ending the moratorium on new red tape for the sector.
Other topics addressed at the debate included the overhaul of maternity and paternity leave, the controversial amendments to the Working Time Regulations and the pros and cons of equal pay audits.
According to recent research by Standard Life, flexi-time is seen as one of the most lucrative benefits among employees in the UK.
The recession and the changing nature of the UK’s workforce have led to more companies offering employee benefits.
According to senior public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Ben Willmott, employers were forced to become less rigid in their approach in order to maintain staff retention during the recession.
“From the aftermath of the financial crisis, we saw a lot of employers looking at flexible working solutions as a way of keeping people on while reducing working hours,” he remarked.
Mr Willmott also noted that more people are working into their later years, which has meant firms have needed to introduce schemes to ensure older employees are looked after.
In a CIPD study, six out of ten workers claimed to be happy with their work-life balance and said employee engagement levels were generally good.
Research by Virgin Media Business recently suggested that the concept of remote working would boom in the next ten years, as more bosses use the system to boost staff motivation.
People who work from home need to balance the flexible benefits with ensuring they get enough contact with the outside world.
This is the advice of business and entrepreneurship expert Tony Featherstone, who said in a guest article for the Sydney Morning Herald that it is easy to start feeling isolated if you look at the same four walls day in, day out.
He recommended setting aside a weekly time period that requires meeting other people, for example, a gym class or book club.
Mr Featherstone also said it’s a good idea to participate in regular exercise to avoid becoming physically unhealthy.
Finally, he warned people taking up the flexible benefits of homeworking not to let their professional and personal lives become blurred, as it may be easier to work longer hours at home than it is in an office.
Earlier in 2011, the Home Front report published by Demos on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner found that some parents are feeling withdrawn from their children because of inflexibility and emotionally demanding jobs.
An emerging generation of environmentally-conscious employees are keen to see their companies introduce flexible benefits packages that include home working.
This is according to director of research at the Telework Association Peter Thomson, who believes that more staff now want to avoid the daily commute in order to cut down on pollution.
He stated that many workers – particularly those in London – find traveling to work “arduous” and unnecessary.
With faster internet connections and mobile devices allowing more people to benefit from the perks of remote working, many employers are coming under increasing pressure to embrace the concept.
“There is now a generation coming in and saying various old habits that applied in the past don’t need to apply now,” he remarked.
According to a recent survey involving the Confederation of British Industry, 96 per cent of firms offer at least one form of flexible working, with many highlighting improvements in employee engagement as a result.