One in three job seekers in the IT and telecoms sectors have indicated that flexible working hours is more important to them than pay, according to new research commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Almost half of the respondents to a survey of more than 4,000 job seekers, backed by the DTI's work/life balance campaign, said that flexible working is the benefit they would most look for in their next job.
At the same time, seven out of 10 job seekers in the IT and telecoms sectors view work/life balance as an important factor in assessing a potential new job. And one in four would like the opportunity to work from home.
Only 11 per cent of IT/telecoms respondents put gym membership at the top of their list, and just six per cent opted for a company car as the main prerequisite for their next job.
One in three IT respondents said that flexibility is more important to them than an extra £1,000 a year.
But work/life balance is still an ideal rather than a reality for many, as the presenteeism culture reigns across UK Plc.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt suggested that the poll showed that the competitive advantages of offering flexible working are now well established.
"New Year is when many people start shopping for their next job, but increasingly people want more from work than the usual package," she said.
"The best businesses are already switched on to this and are using flexible working policies to attract and retain the people they need in the war for talent."
Copier giant Xerox estimates that it has saved £1m over the past five years in the UK through enhanced staff retention due to better work/life balance practices.
The DTI has launched a new helpline to offer assistance and guidance to both bosses and employees on flexible working in preparation for new family-friendly employment rights due to come into force on 6 April.
The Acas-run helpline number is 08457 47 47 47 or textphone 08456 06 16 00.
James Reed, of recruitment website reed.co.uk, which carried out the study, maintained that the findings should act as a wake up call to employers.
"Out of over 100,000 permanent and temporary jobs on our website, less than 60 offer flexitime as a benefit," he said.
"Too many organisations seem to be missing out on one of the most effective ways to attract top talent."
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