Employee Experience

How Does a Flexible Work Environment Empower Employees and Drive Satisfaction?

Lara Edwards |

Employees around the world are taking a hard look at work.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives at home and in the office, people are asking themselves what their jobs mean to them and how work can function in tandem with – rather than in opposition to – personal life.

To find out how this change is affecting the way we approach work and what we expect from employers, the experts at SAP and Oxford Economics teamed up to conduct a survey of 352 finance and IT decision-makers from small and midsize companies around the globe.

Across the board, respondents say they understand what matters to employees, but few are offering benefits that are aligned with employee expectations. Most leaders want their people back in the office full time, but for more than half, the reality of a hybrid work model feels unavoidable – at least over the next two years. Unfortunately, though, for many employees and the businesses they work for, workplace operations, such as travel and expense management and supplier invoice management, are simply not optimised to make working from anywhere possible.

The obvious question is: Do business leaders really know what their employees want?

Oxford Economics UK Fact Sheet: Empowering Your People

Find out how finance and IT leaders can support flexible working


In the United Kingdom, just 41% of survey respondents even acknowledge that the pandemic may be causing employees to reevaluate what’s important to them.

At the same time, 61% say they know what employees want at work – but only 35% are using formal surveys to find out how their people really feel about their jobs. Nearly 60% list competitive pay as the most important factor in employee satisfaction – and more than three-quarters report that their companies are delivering it. But only 41% say that their organisation is ultimately providing the right mix of benefits and compensation.

As we are seeing in “The Great Resignation,” pay isn’t everything. And as much as leadership may want everyone in the office, flexibility is the new name of the game. More than half (53%) of UK respondents acknowledge that flexible work is important to potential employees, and even more (57%) say employees perform better if they have the flexibility to choose where they work. Yet 57% still say that the optimal policy for remote work is to require everyone to be in the office full time, and 56% expect to have that policy back in place in two years.

Whether business leaders want to acknowledge it or not, offering workforce flexibility is going to be critical to providing a positive employee experience that keeps people happy and attracts top talent in the future. With this in mind, finance and IT must ensure that employees can perform their jobs from anywhere. But for businesses around the world, process effectiveness is still low. When it comes to spend management, for example, respondents from the UK report poor performance. Only 45% say they have completely optimised the process for updating compliance policy. And only 35% are effectively managing supplier invoices. The numbers for managing travel and expense reports and capturing employee spend are even lower at 31% and 25% respectively.

The bottom line is that if employers want a satisfied and engaged workforce that can get them through these tumultuous times and move toward a brighter future they need to begin preparing today.

The first step is to start listening to employees to find out what is working, what is not, and how finance and IT can help. Regular surveys are a good first step in keeping up to date with where your employees are now and what they need to feel empowered to give their very best.

Next, make sure you are getting people the training they need to keep up with a continuously changing work environment. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but with time businesses are adapting. It is critical that your people have the guidance, support, and tools they need to adapt as well – including keeping up with changing policies and regulations for everything from expenses to invoices, remote work, and travel.

Finally, finance and IT must work together to put technology in place that supports the hybrid work experience. Whether it’s finance experts, account payable, procurement teams, business travellers, managers, or general employees, your people expect to be able to work from anywhere – and for the near future, they have to. So, make sure you have the flexible, scalable, integrated solutions you need to make that possible today, tomorrow, and for the long term.


Read the full report to see how you can empower your people, drive employee satisfaction, and support flexible work.

Employee Experience
Business travel enables your company to sit across the table from key clients it helps you build relationships and foster partnerships with prospective customers it is in fact the...
Keep reading
Employee Experience
Having a plan for your first days on the job can set you on a more solid path to success in your new finance leader role Writing down your plan and every major step involved can help...
Keep reading
Employee Experience
We are living in the midst of a work revolution What was once a gradual shift toward hybrid work hit seismic proportions over the past two years Working faster and smarter are no...
Keep reading