Europe's workers happy to slave into (a flexible) old age

2005

Nearly three quarters of British workers would work later in life if they could do so flexibly, latest research of European workers has suggested.

The study by recruiter Manpower, which is particularly topical as debate rages about Europe's growing pensions' crisis, also found 59 per cent of employees would be happy working a longer week if their hours were flexible.

The report, entitled What makes a Great Employer?, studied 1,604 workers in the UK, and 12,229 across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It concluded that UK employees ranked flexible working and a work/life balance as one of the three top factors when deciding what made a great employer.

Workers also rated career progression opportunities, competitive benefits and salary package as other leading factors when choosing who to work for.

Mark Cahill, Manpower managing director, said: "Whilst it is still the case that benefits and salary often feature at the top of employee wish lists, employers need to recognise that many employees rate flexibility just as highly."

Workers were less concerned about who they worked for than how they worked, with just nine per cent of workers believing working for a well-known company was important.

Workers were also more likely to have at least two or three different careers in their lifetime and want to have more say over how and when they worked.

"With an ageing population, thinking creatively about how we better engage the workforce can make all the difference. It's clear there is a demand and good employers need to recognise it," said Cahill.

After salary and bonus, key workplace issues for employees were the length of the working week (with 62 per cent rating it important), the number of holidays (54 per cent) and access to paid courses/education (49 per cent).

Flexible working practices were similarly popular with many European workers: an average of 70 per cent would work later in life if they could do so flexibly.

However, there was a marked reluctance among Swedish employees to take such a step with just 38 per cent supporting this compared to 69 per cent in Norway, 68 per cent in Belgium, 72 per cent in Spain and 84 per cent in Turkey.

Flexible working was also in the top three for determining a great employer with European job seekers, who also cited security and stability and salary and benefits.

Looking at the popularity of different benefits or employment policies above others across Europe, workers in Austria had the greatest thirst for knowledge with 78 per cent rating paid courses/education as most important.

Employees in Germany were most interested in a pension packages (68 per cent), workers in Greece wanted career breaks (70 per cent), employees in Spain were most concerned at the length of the working week (69 per cent) and workers in Turkey most valued healthcare provision (73 per cent).