A recent survey from Hays found that 94 per cent of Australians would prefer to work flexibly if it didn’t disadvantage their career.
“There is great concern amongst Australia’s working population that taking up [flexibility] will be a handicap on their career,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.
“From slower promotional pathways to less access to learning and development, a low profile within the organisation and even a loss of status, there is a feeling that the career of employees who work flexibly can suffer.”
Hays senior regional director Susan Drew said that despite accounting firms increasingly offering flexible working conditions, many employees are hesitant to utilise them.
“More firms are starting to understand the impact of extensive work days, long commutes and the pressure of deadlines on their staff are looking at incorporating flexible working, work from home and other incentives to help employees gain a better work/life balance,” Ms Drew said.
“Despite this some employees remain hesitant to adopt flexible working due to worry that it could impact their career.”
On top of this, Ms Drew said that the potential impact of working flexibly on a career is seen to be greater for women than men.
“Our 2017 Gender Diversity report shows that flexible working is seen as more of a career-limiting move for women (65 per cent) than for men (51 per cent),” she said.
“That’s likely because significantly more women than men take up flexible working options, usually in order to balance work and family responsibilities.”
Ms Drew said she believes the stigma around flexible working will improve, however it will take time.
“So while we expect to see some improvement over the next 12 months, it will be a while before flexible working is the norm for every firm,” she said.