The report, compiled by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and recruitment consultant Reed, found that almost half of respondents (46%) would rather have flexible working hours. Among male workers, only 13% said they would prefer a company car, while 7% of women would opt for the car keys and 51% would go for flexible working.
The Government is keen to encourage companies to introduce flexible working and will announce laws in April to help employees gain more rights, particularly for parents.
A casualty of such a change in benefits offered to attract employees could be the company car as firms switch strategies, although the DTI says it has not carried out any research on possible ramifications, or whether fleet sales could be affected. A spokeswoman for Reed added it had not yet seen any shift in the company car being dropped from employers' job adverts.
Furthermore, sales of company cars are likely to have reached a record level for 2002, although predictions suggest a slight downturn over the next year.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: 'This poll shows that getting a better work-life balance is becoming much more important for all employees – men as much as women – and the competitive advantages business gains from flexible working are now well established.'
The results fly in the face of what employers think. The GEE Guide to Company Cars 2002/3 suggests that the company car has become more attractive as a core employee benefit, and concludes that in the light of widespread pay freezes, two-thirds of companies believe company cars will retain their influence as a benefit.
Research last year by Fleet News (April 2002) found that in nearly 600 advertised executive jobs in broadsheet newspapers, fewer than a third dangled the carrot of a company car in the advertising copy, while more than half of sales jobs used a car as an attraction.