Flexible working demands on the rise in tech startup and scaleups

Flexible working demands on the rise in tech startup and scaleups

Flexible working and salary have become a much bigger deal for retaining employees in tech startups and scaleups during the past 12 months, according to a new report released today.

The ISL Retention Report 2020 – Tech Scaleups surveyed 250 people who left their post in the previous four months and found that more than 67% of people said a lack of flexible working would make them leave a role – a jump of 12% on the year before.

The preferred flexible option (82%) would be to have flexible start and end times – which compared to 62% for a four-day week.

The report, produced by tech and engineering specialist recruitment firm ISL also shows a move from 65% to 70% on the number of people who said lack of adequate renumeration is a reason for them to leave a company. And salary package remains the main reason people would take a job elsewhere at 86%.

The same number as in 2019 (80%) cited unsatisfactory working environments as the key reason for leaving an organisation.

Alan Furley, ISL director, said: “Once again we see that culture really is king in our new report as people are much more likely to stay with a business they are aligned with and enjoy working in.

“Flexible working is very much part of this mix and it’s interesting to see that this year we’ve seen the dial move on how much impact it now has on the reason people remain in post.

“However, implementing a flexible working programme that works is complex – something everyone is talking about but actually means different things to different people. 

“A company has to take into consideration what their workforce really wants in order to enable a flexible working programme to be beneficial – and, ultimately, this is part of the wider view on the kind of organisation founders and leaders want to build.”

Line managers fared slightly better in this year’s report as 71%, compared to 79% last year, said bad line management played a significant role in the decision to move on. And the report also shows that 85% wanted to see strong and decisive leadership in a manager was the most desirable trait – above a 75% vote for emotional control.

When it comes to diversity and opening the sector up to new employees, the report showed four in ten (40%) said that creating an open, inclusive culture at the heart of a company’s leadership team and company mission was the most important action. This compared to only one in ten (11%) saying tools and systems to eliminate unconscious bias would be most effective.

Debbie Foster, CEO at Tech Talent Charter  said: “If you’re going to look at diversity, you must consider inclusion. We often hear that companies are investing a lot in recruitment but they are unable to realise longer term success because the work environment does not cater for different strengths and needs.

“Reports such as this are crucial in helping understand what makes a workplace successful and help people of all backgrounds and cultures be productive together – which in turn is good for everyone not just in the organisation, but the business as a whole.” 

Startup and scaleup founders will also do well to note that in the 2020 report, 85% of people who wanted to join a growing business said the role and learning opportunity was the most important. This was followed closely by work/life balance (80%) and 78% for passion for the product.

Furley said: “It has been our intention in the second ISL Retention Report Tech ScaleUps 2020 to bring to the surface how people working in the UK’s tech scale ups feel about their jobs. What makes them stay – and want to escape.

“Now having the perspective of two years of research, it is fascinating to see how invaluable a company’s culture is to the tech sector. While there is, given the past 12 month’s political upheaval, an increase in the importance of salary, it remains clear that people really care about their work environment.”

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