GENERATION FLEX: Aussie employees have itchy feet for flexi work in 2017

Media Release, 16 January 2017

They say a change is as good as a holiday, but Australian employees are urged not to be so trigger happy with the resignation letter this Blue Monday (16 January 2017) and take measured approach to the “New Year, New You” motto, as the reality of the daily grind sets back in.

According to fresh research from Telstra released on Blue Monday – oft cited the most dreaded day of the year – more than half (52 per cent) of Australians are dreading the return to work this year.

More than a third (38 per cent) of Aussies have resolved to move roles in 2017 to satisfy a need for change. However, a staggering 82 per cent of that group said their itchy feet would be sated if their employer offered flexible working options, like working at home.

This new breed of Australian worker – dubbed Generation Flex – is represented most fiercely by Young Gen-Ys (18-24), of whom 87 per cent would be happier returning to work this year if their role was more flexible. They’ve also been the age group most dreading coming back to work after the break, with three quarters (74%) saying they are not looking forward to the return to work in 2017.

Telstra’s recently released Work-Life Index, which involved a comprehensive study into the perceptions of employees and employers around working at home, showed that while one in two employers say they offer flexible working options, only one in four employees actually take up the opportunity.

The Friendly Psychologist, Jacqui Manning said the latest survey findings show that Australians place a high value on flexible working, but it also raised the question of why uptake is so low?

Results show that the issue might lie in initiating the conversation. More than half (56 per cent) of workers don’t feel comfortable broaching the subject with their boss, with the reticence more prevalent among women than men.

Additionally, while Gen-Ys are most up for flexible working, they are also the age group who feel least confident in discussing working at home (67 per cent wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so).

Ms Manning says a perceived lack of flexibility in the workplace is a real issue for Australian workers, with many of her clients reporting a lack of personal time as a key reason for not achieving life goals.

“I regularly consult with people who are desperate to take the stress out of their lives and achieve more for themselves, and yet they’re allowing simple things, like time spent on the daily commute, to hold them back.

“While searching for a new job with a higher salary might seem like an alluring solution for many, it isn’t always the answer. We can achieve greater happiness in our lives by making some simple changes beyond remuneration, and I regularly encourage my clients to consider working at home as a viable solution for achieving your goals,” said Jacqui.

Executive Director of Home and Business Products at Telstra, Stuart Bird, said: “At Telstra, we pride ourselves on providing fast, reliable broadband to Aussie homes, ensuring that technology is no longer a barrier for people to work at home – it’s all about the mindset.

“Technology has a major role to play in driving the working at home movement and enabling work-life flexibility. The rollout of the NBN is enabling fast connectivity, so many people can work to their preferred speed and style, utilising the latest collaborative tools and technology at home. By the end of this year more than half the country will have access to NBN’s office-like internet speeds at home.

“So don’t rush to quit your day job, just redefine it by embracing the benefits of working at home, which reap rewards not only for Aussie workers, but for business productivity, too. Kick starting the conversation with your manager is often all it takes to get the ball rolling,” said Mr Bird.

Other key take outs from the Generation Flex research includes:

  • Work vs. life: Creating a more manageable working environment is important to Australians. More than a quarter (26 per cent) say being able to work more flexible hours is the thing they’d like to change most about their job in 2017, while 38 per cent strive for better work/life balance.
  • No Year’s resolutions: Only 25 per cent of Australians set work-related New Year’s resolutions, suggesting that people are not taking action to achieve a happier working life.

Jacqui Manning’s Tips for talking to your boss about work flexibility:

  1. Start the conversation - Don’t drop hints or hope they will guess you’d like to work from home. Be clear about what you’re asking them to consider and bring a solid plan on how you see working from home playing out for you and your boss.
  2. Preparation is key - Think through your ideal work from home scenario, write down your ideas and how you see it working for both parties.
  3. Bring solutions - Working from home may be a new concept to your boss. Help to alleviate their fears and come up with some concrete ideas on how you will implement working from home, e.g. video conferencing, project management apps, and online collaboration tools.
  4. Sell the benefits to them - Most companies want to know their productivity is going to grow so think of the situation from their point of view and explain how this could actually help reduce overheads and increase productivity.
  5. Offer a trial period - Offer to trial it for 1-3 months and then review. Understand they may need to ‘check up’ on you until they can be confident its working, so be amenable to this as it will help in the long run.

You can view Telstra’s Work-Life Index in full here.

Note to editors:

Generation Flex research – Telstra claims based on research conducted by Pure Profile, 15-19 December 2016, amongst 1,250 surveyed Australian employees aged 18 or above.

Work-Life Index – Telstra claim based on research conducted by Nielsen, 19-26 September 2016, amongst 1,810 surveyed Australian employees and employers aged 18 or above.