How to adopt flexible hiring within your business
Hewett Recruitment and Worcestershire LEP recently partnered with Timewise, hosting a ‘Flexible Working Workshop’ and unveiling Worcestershire’s first ‘Flexible Jobs Index’. The research evidenced key flexibility trends throughout the county, with the aim of helping business owners and HR professionals better understand how to harness the top talent for their business.
Why should my business adopt flexible hiring?
The average job is advertised as approximately 37 hours, regardless of the company, role or requirements. Why is this? Simply because “it’s the way we’ve always worked”, presenting an issue. The workforce is changing and flexibility is becoming increasingly important when attracting and retaining top talent for your business.
“Adapting the flexible hiring will enable employers in Worcestershire to attract the best possible talent, by ensuring inclusivity”- Emma Stuart, Timewise CEO.
It’s common for flexible working to be offered to employees as a ‘perk’ once work ethic has been monitored and trust established, rather than at the point of hire, due to lack of strategy and dated, untrusting company culture. It should be understood that the workforce has changed- flexibility should be present in the job ad, to attract top talent and unlock a hidden talent pool. Meet organisational and individual needs by designing a flexibility strategy that works.
Benefits of Flexible Working
- Mental health
- Work-Life Balance
- Improving living standards
- Improved productivity
- Gender pay gap
- Skills utilisation
- Diversity & inclusion
Don’t wait for employees to ‘ask’
A large proportion of individuals require flexibility in the workplace for multiple reasons, be in child-care, illness or caring for a relative. This can often act as a barrier during the job search- do you apply only for roles advertised as flexible, or apply for your dream role and hope they’ll accommodate?
Don’t put the onus to request flexibility on to the applicant. Its likely feelings of guilt and even embarrassment may occur when requests are required, preventing many from applying to their ‘dream role’, instead settling for low skilled, part-time work. Timewise research found a strong correlation between low paid, part time jobs and flexibility, suggesting an entire pool of talent are ‘trapped’ in such roles.
Realistically, those seeking flexibility in Worcestershire can apply for around 1 in 9 quality vacancies, severely narrowing their options. This is a significant barrier to entering work and moving jobs for career progression.
It’s a sensitive’s topic – but with a few attitudinal shifts and alterations to behavioural patterns, it needn’t be.
Negative connotations regarding flexibility are present from both employers and employees.
Employees feel as though they shouldn’t be asking for flexibility, often feeling guilty, with the expectation they’ll be told ‘no.’
“Should I make them like me first, and then ask?
“If I ask, will it hinder my chances of securing the position?”
Another barrier revolves around employee’s perceptions of what others will think if they seek flexibility in the workplace- “will others criticise me?” This is a cultural barrier that will change with time and guidance, challenging the ‘norms’ to encourage behavioural shifts and become more supportive.
On the other hand, the mindset of employers often must also be confronted, creating a positive, open and inclusive company culture. The key to making flexible hiring a success is trust. Trust your employees, their work ethic and skills.
Attitudinal barriers preventing the adoption of flexible working
- “I need to see someone to known they are working” – lack of trust
- “They weren’t there when I needed them” – scarred by past incidents
- “Everyone will want Friday off…”
- Prejudice of gender bias- not just for moms!
- “I didn’t have it, so why should they?”
How to start;
Of course, not all roles can be flexible- if you’re a teacher, you need to be there during school hours to teach. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. One must initially understand where the need for flexibility is and work around that. Speak with hiring managers to understand the perimeters- “can this job be done flexibility?” The key is to consider fairness and equality in all decisions made, cater to individual requirements and be open to accommodate situations.
Flexibility could be created through variations of hours, days and location (e.g. working from home). Informal trials for a few months are a great option when setting boundaries and understanding what works for your business.
Be specific on your flexibility offering. 7 out of 10 individual won’t apply for a role if flexibility is not mentioned. Where flexibility was mentioned, applicants wanted more in depth detail, therefore the more clarity you can provide in a job advert, the better. Remember, to share these elements of the role at the top of the advert, not at the very bottom. Flexibility is attractive- promote it to help gain the very best talent.
Champion the benefits
Within the company, usually at a senior level, there will be examples of individuals who are successfully working flexibly or part-time. Use these example as ‘champions’, sharing success using role modelling and storytelling. These case studies should share insight into ‘how’ they made flexibility work for them, not just ‘why’, to encourage understanding and an internal cultural shift.
2019’s Timewise Power 50 have some incredible examples of how success and progression can occur on a flexible basis: one of whom, Ellie Lacey, works 3 days per week as a Marketing Director, coordinating global events, and dedicates some of her free-time running an international not-for-profit event she set up in Uganda three years ago.
Role modelling is a fantastic way to show others in the company how flexibility can work, and work well, producing an attitudinal shift.
A high quantity of employers are cutting themselves off from a proportion of the candidate market by failing to state their openness to flexibility in recruitment adverts. This untapped talent isn’t limited to purely mothers and carers, but also older workers, millennials and those seeking a ‘new way of working’.
Taking a proactive approach and adopting flexible hiring will help ‘get ahead of the curve’, attracting top talent in this skills short market.