The Future of Work: the employer perspective

Funded by: Equal Opportunities Commission


April 2006 to October 2006

PSI researchers:

Deborah Smeaton

Background, summary and aims

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has contracted PSI to carry out a new telephone survey of 900 employers investigating recent change and planned developments in the organization of work and flexible working practices.

In the context of global competition and demographic change many organizations face a stark choice: adapt and prosper or continue with traditional methods of working and rigid working time regimes and risk stagnation or failure. Facing cost and quality competition, successful organizations depend on the skills, commitment and initiative of their workforce. In order to attract, nurture and retain staff with these qualities, companies must offer terms and conditions of employment and ways of working which are enabling. Organisations therefore need to establish a strategy that can achieve a balance between regulatory requirements, business needs and employee preferences.

Diversity has become a goal for many British employers, driven in part by labour shortages and demographic change, but also by regulatory developments. While employers may increasingly recognize the need to widen their recruitment criteria, if they fail to provide the conditions necessary for their participation companies will effectively drain the pool from which to select the best candidates for available jobs.

Aims of the research therefore include:

  • To assess whether employers are adopting new ways of working, what these are and which sort of employer is most likely to have introduced or be planning to introduce such changes.
  • Assess current organisational priorities and establish whether new ways of working by their workforce are high among these.
  • Investigate the type of information included in recruitment efforts, specifically whether flexible working opportunities are regarded as an employment incentive.
  • To establish the extent to which flexible, home or other ‘new’ ways of working are available to all members of staff or restricted to managerial/ professional grades or particular occupational groups.
  • Among organisations that have introduced minimal or no changes to working practices, to explore the reasons why, assessing obstacles and barriers.