Belgian companies expecting rise in employee demand for flexibility at work

Belgian companies expecting rise in employee demand for flexibility at work
Credit: Belga

In the ongoing war on talent, flexibility in working hours, days and weeks seems to increasingly be the trump card for attracting and retaining employees, according to HR services provider SD Worx.

Around one in four SMEs (companies with up to 250 employees) in Belgium are expecting to see the demand for flexibility in employees' working schedules to increase as a result of the new labour deal, which among other things allows for the possibility of a four-day working week.

"The employment deal is not a revolution, but it is a positive evolution. Its merit lies in making flexibility more tangible in the organisation of labour," Annelies Rottiers, strategic advisor for SMEs at SD Worx said.

She explained that, increasingly, employers are taking into account the needs of employees, and considering different formulas to increase the flexibility of their work lives to "attract new talent in times of scarcity."

"That requires a combination of responding to the individual, without forgetting the team. Finding a compromise with flexibility that fits the specific business and the team."

Disconnecting and choosing working time

According to a recent survey by SD Worx, one-fourth of businesses in Belgium expect that the demand for the "right to disconnect" will increase in 2022. This demand is predicted to be higher in the tertiary or service sectors (25.3%) and lower in the secondary sector (17.9%).

Meanwhile, one in five companies is expecting more employees to ask for their five-day working week to be changed to four days. This would see employees working longer but fewer days.

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Employers are also expecting a rise in the demand to change working schedules every other week. As part of the labour deal, this would allow employees to work more hours in one week than in another, but on average, still perform the intended number of working hours as stipulated in the working contract.

Although it is not included in the federal labour deal, "flexible working hours," an arrangement which sees employees determine the start and end of their working day as well as their break, but still working the hours as stipulated in their contract, remains the preferred flexibility formula.

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