‘All I want for Christmas is.. flexible working’

New survey finds the extra demands of Christmas drive many workers to take time off work. But flexible working is seen as the solution.


Flexible working is the perk workers want most for Christmas.

A new survey found many working dads admitted to taking days off work over the festive period to cope with childcare issues.

Some also reported finding the pressure of Christmas too much. Throwing Christmas into the mix with the usual juggling act of combining family life and a career meant a number of respondents to the Benenden Health study reported taking time off for the sake of their mental health. 15% of employees said they’d done this. That rises to 19% among millennials.

One in eight workers said they’d taken unapproved absence over the holiday season to deal with caring responsibilities. One in five confessed they’d lied to their employer about the reason they were off. The rules around taking time off for childcare are not well known meaning many workers finding easier just to feign sickness.

Though a solid quarter of those questioned admitted they’d had to take time off due to over indulgence at Christmas parties.

Flexible working at Christmas

According to the survey, less than half of all workers (44%) have access to support and flexible working over Christmas to help them cope with the heightened demands of family, health and care commitments.

One in seven (15%) businesses confirmed they have experienced greater levels of unapproved absence at Christmas, with some of the most creative reasons given by employees including ‘eating too much Christmas pudding’, ‘thinking they had the week off after the Christmas party’ and ‘losing car keys in the snow’.

According to the survey data, more than a quarter (28%) of employees say their most desired workplace benefit is flexible working, with this topping the wish list for Generation Z, Millennial and Generation X employees. However, only 38% of SMEs offer this. And more than half of all businesses surveyed revealed they have never consulted employees about what they would value in a benefits package.


Helen Smith, Chief Commercial Officer at Benenden Health, said: “We associate Christmas with joy and celebration, but in reality, it can be a really stressful time at work, especially when employees have a significant amount on their plate both inside and outside the workplace.

“By listening to workers and catering for their unique needs – in this instance, offering flexible working over the festive period, especially for younger employees, or having a suitable healthcare policy in place to allow for easy access to medical appointments and GPs for all the family – can minimise stress, absenteeism and ultimately increase the productivity of a workforce and overall performance of a business.”

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