What’s holding recruiters back from talking about flexible working?
Fewer than three in ten jobs in Scotland are advertised as flexible, according to our friends at social business Timewise.
They audited a whopping 340,000 job adverts, looking for the proportion that mentioned flexible working, and it was a meager 27%. This was in spite of all the extra flexibility the majority of workers experienced because of the pandemic.
The Scottish Flexible Jobs Index shows the portion of jobs mentioning hybrid working, part-time hours, or other forms of flexible working has risen just 2% in the last year, and just 8% since before the pandemic in 2019.
Yet we know seven in ten Scottish employees already work flexibly, and the same number want more flexibility than they have now. Many are willing to change jobs to find the flexibility they need. Expectations about working flexibly are rocketing.
So why aren’t job adverts shouting about the flex that could be on offer?
It’s true there are some employers that are simply waiting for the pandemic restrictions to end so they can get everyone back to the office Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. But there’s more behind this hesitancy than a small stalwart group of traditionalists.
I suspect it’s much more to do with some of the practical implementation of flexible working that’s holding employers back. We speak to teams all the time that want to give people more flexibility but they are struggling with how to make things fair – some jobs are easier than others to make more flexible, for example.
Or, they’re wondering what greater flex means for existing benefits. Car allowances can be part of an offer package but if you’re working from home much more, do you still need a car? How is this compensated if you don’t get the car allowance? Flex can throw up lots more questions.
Many employers are rightly realising that true flexible working stems from a particular type of working culture where staff are trusted, and included in more decisions. This doesn’t materialise overnight.
Flexible working isn’t always easy. It’s why we exist, to help with these knotty issues. Because it is worth it.
Unlocking the benefits
There’s academic evidence and practical examples aplenty showing that offering more flexible working increases staff motivation and productivity, as well as reducing sickness absence.
When it comes to recruitment, offering flexible working can make a big difference too. It helps companies appeal to a larger talent pool if candidates don’t need to be within commuting distance of a specific location every day, or if the role can be done with more flexible hours.
Zurich Insurance Group recently increased the number of women it hired into senior roles by a third after it started including wording about the flexible working on offer with the company in job adverts.
While Pursuit Marketing in Glasgow now spends absolutely nothing advertising vacant roles. The company is well known for its four-day week on full pay and they receive dozens of on-spec applications a day as a result.
Whether you want to attract a more diverse workforce, fill roles where there are desperate skill shortages, or just make your company stand out to the very best candidates, being up front about the possibility of working flexibly can help.
Flexible workers are more likely to stay longer too, so you’ll have lower staff turnover and fewer jobs you’ll need to pay to advertise.
Time for action
We’re starting to see people voting with their feet when it comes to what sort of job they want. And the business benefits of offering flexibility upfront are significant.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and solve any remaining practical challenges to getting flexible working fully embedded – including in job adverts.