The MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study 2020 revealed the majority of employers (73 per cent) said they provided flexibility as an employee benefit, yet only half of employees (53 per cent) felt these arrangements were offered in their workplace.
While both employees and employers said flexible work arrangements were a key benefit to support employee mental health, employees are more stressed than ever, the study said.
Almost 80 per cent of employees said they currently felt stressed and 50 per cent said they were more stressed than before the pandemic.
According to the study, part of this may be the new challenges faced by employees who are now working from home as part of their standard working life, and therefore no longer have a distinct demarcation between work and home.
Close to half of employees (48 per cent) said they expect to spend more time working from home than they did before the pandemic. However, despite common assumptions, more home time does not mean better balance, with more than half (56 per cent) also saying they struggle with maintaining a healthy work/life balance while working from home.
MetLife Australia’s head of people and culture, Allyson Carlile, said remote working has long been a hallmark of flexible working, but we are learning that “remote” doesn’t necessarily mean “flexible”.
“Employees may consider remote work as standard in today’s workplace, not an additional benefit. Many are instead now looking to their employers to support them with a new blended way of working, but the research highlighted many organisations (62 per cent) are struggling with the challenge of increased demand for work/life flexibility,” Ms Carlile said.
“There is no one size fits all when it comes to flexibility and that can create complexity for some organisations.
“Although working from home may alleviate certain stresses, employers need to empower their employees with more flexible work hours so they have the time they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones.”
The study surveyed over 300 employers and more than 1,000 employees from different companies.