European-wide survey shows how companies are managing in the recession

Improving labour market flexibility is one of the key elements of the Lisbon strategy to make Europe more dynamic and competitive. Eurofound's second European Company Survey is designed to make easier for Companies to find strategies to manage the economic recession.

Working time flexibility is the most common type of flexibility in European companies, the survey of 27,000 public and private establishments found. More than half (56%) of all establishments with 10 or more employees in the EU27 use some type of flexi-time arrangement. This reflects a substantial increase compared to four years ago as measured in the previous European Company Survey, undertaken in 21 countries.

The European Company survey also looked at the views and experiences of workplace social dialogue. The survey found that six out of ten employees (63%) in Europe are covered by a recognised institution of employee representation. The survey findings paint a picture of robust practices of workplace social dialogue in Europe, and also point to limitations and to important differences across Europe.

The survey mapped work practices considered to be important elements of contractual and functional flexibility in an organisation. About two thirds of surveyed establishments (67%) indicated that they use some form of temporary work arrangement like temporary agency workers, fixed-term contracts and freelancers. Three out of four establishments indicate that the need for further training is periodically checked in a systematic way. However, training is not equally distributed among all workers.

The 'European Company Survey 2009 - Flexibility practices and social dialogue' is the second European-wide establishment survey carried out by Eurofound, the Dublin-based EU agency. Both human resource managers and employer representatives in 27,000 establishments across the 27 EU Member States as well as Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were interviewed simultaneously during spring 2009. Eurofound's first company survey - the Establishment Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance (ESWT) - was carried out in 2004/5 in 21 countries. The main results of the second European Company Survey will be published in spring 2010. This will be followed by some more detailed reports which include more in-depth analysis.