British workers seek more flexibility with almost 60% looking for earlier starts and shorter working weeks

McDonald's UK reveals major study into world of work

New research released today by McDonald’s UK, reveals more than half of UK adults want to move away from traditional working patterns, choosing jobs that enable them to work more flexibly and prioritise commitments outside of work.

As one of the largest employers in the UK with a multigenerational workforce of more than 120,000 people, McDonald’s wanted to better understand working lives in the UK today and how this will shift in the future.

This study was conducted in July and August, with YouGov as well as with McDonald’s employees. To further understand and meet people’s needs from work today, McDonald’s will also be working closely with flexibility campaigner Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka), the CIPD, Working Mums and Youth Employment UK.

Shifting working patterns

Jobs that offer earlier starts and a shorter working week most appealing to job seekers; with only 6% of people working the traditional ‘9-5’

  • More than half of people (58%) in full-time employment would like to start earlier than 9am and finish earlier than 5pm
  • Starting at 8am and finishing by 4pm was the most popular option chosen by 37% of respondents – with 21% opting for a 7am start, finishing at 3pm
  • If given the option, just under half of UK adults (48%) would prefer to work a longer day in return for a shorter working week

Social workplaces, proximity to home and pay are the top priorities

People want to work closer to home with jobs that allow them to juggle commitments outside work:

  • A sociable workplace ties with pay as top criteria for ‘good jobs’ among almost two-thirds of all adults (63%), closely followed by flexibility to work the hours and patterns that suit and a convenient location
  • Flexibility is an everyday part of working life, with almost half of people working flexibly in one form or another, such as job sharing or compressed hours
  • It is important to people of all ages and life stages, with four in five parents and students stating that flexible working allows them to juggle work with family commitments and studying 
  • With a call for more… 7 in 10 people would like to work more flexibly in the future whilst two thirds of employees working flexibly say it encourages them to stay in a job for longer and improves their motivation levels. 65 per cent of UK workers say it would improve their wellbeing and satisfaction at work
  • However, barriers remain. Almost a third of workers don’t believe their employer would let them work flexibly

A survey of McDonald’s employees supports the UK findings. A social workplace topped their priorities, closely followed by the flexibility to work hours that suit them. The ability to develop new skills, such as team work and communications skills, was also a key factor for over half.

Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s UK & Ireland, commented: “People are looking for jobs that work for them. This research reflects our belief that to attract, retain and motivate, employers need to create opportunities that genuinely work for people whatever their age, life stage, or ambition. The business case is clear, as are the links to improved happiness and wellbeing – people simply don’t want to work 9-5 anymore. They want to work more flexibly, but that doesn’t diminish ambition, desire or opportunity to progress,

“We will continue to create jobs that suit different lifestyles and life stages, whether it’s parents looking to fit a job around family commitments, a student looking to earn some extra money at the weekend or someone looking to stay with us, progress and take advantage of the training we offer.  We will also continue to talk to our people to ensure we understand what works for them. We hire on qualities not qualifications and will continue to offer people a choice between fixed and flexible contracts; as our people have told us they want to make the decision for themselves and choose what works for them.”

Peter Cheese, CIPD CEO and Co-Chair of the Government’s Flexible Working Task Force, commented: “This survey sheds a strong light on how people increasingly think differently about work, and how work itself is changing. Flexible working is a growing preference for lots of people and provides opportunities to work for many who have other commitments or constraints that make it hard for them to work traditional working patterns. It therefore benefits organisations by giving them access to wider talent pools and creating more inclusive work environments. It’s also clear that employees with access to flexible working arrangements are more likely to be satisfied and committed to their organisation.

“However, more organisations need to think about flexible working as McDonald’s have, as uptake of flexible working is still low and most jobs are not advertised as being open to different working arrangements. While government has a role to play in driving change across the labour market, employers also need to take charge, putting flexible working options in place and improving behaviours and attitudes towards flexible working to create a win-win for individuals and organisations.”

To better understand how it can support the changing needs of the UK workforce, McDonald’s has partnered with flexibility campaigner Anna Whitehouse. Anna will also be hosting events in McDonald’s restaurants – with the first on 19th September in London – to provide help and advice on flexible working.

Anna Whitehouse, also known as Mother Pukka, commented: “Flexible working is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s a fundamental shift that has to happen to the fabric of the working world. We see it as a two-way relationship, businesses trusting their employees and employees taking responsibility to get the job done. We’ve been lobbying the government and spreading the word with our Flex Appeal campaign for three years and we are delighted to be working with McDonald’s using their footprint across the country to help us spread the message further.”