Very few employers have realised it yet, but flexible hiring is a way to attract extra candidates – people who wouldn’t otherwise apply, because they will not consider a full-time role.
Significant numbers of extremely talented people already work in a part time or flexible arrangement with their existing employers. They’re highly successful in their roles, and well able to deliver performance outcomes whilst working flexibly.
How will you tempt them to come and work for you instead, unless you offer to at least match their current flexibility?
The modern workplace is changing fast, and top candidates are generally expecting more from employers. Today’s young graduates are also looking for a different work experience than 9 to 5 in an office, every day of their lives.
Flexible hiring is simpler than you think. You just have to state clearly, in ads for jobs where flexible working is possible, that you will consider requests from the point of hire. This doesn’t commit you to agreeing a flexible contract – you just have to signal that you will consider reasonable requests. And for the best candidate, you probably would be willing to offer flexibility. Wouldn’t you?
Look around and you’ll find examples of highly successful women (and men) working flexibly in senior roles. But it doesn’t happen as much as it could. It’s much more common for flexible workers to be passed over for promotion and get ‘stuck’ in the middle of their careers.
Businesses can nurture the pipeline of female talent by supporting their career progression whilst they’re working part time or flexibly. Don’t get side-tracked by issues of possible resentment from full time workers – it’s a question of setting appropriate performance targets for the role, and rewarding high achievers with career advancement. Championing part time role models, male and female, within your company can help to set examples for others, and quash any scepticism.
Get your approach right on career progression for flexible workers, and one of the prizes will be improved diversity at the top of business.
Employers are rightly concerned about the failure to attract women into senior positions. The problem starts in middle management, with the loss of female talent in the pipeline. Promoting talented people who work flexibly, together with offering flexibility at the point of hire, are key solutions; they can also help improve your representation of older workers and people with health concerns.
The need for diversity isn’t just a political issue with targets for female board representation being set by think tanks. The word is that businesses with women on their boards perform better than those without. And having women in senior roles can make a huge impact on workplace culture, improving employee engagement – especially for those women further down the career ladder.
Small and large businesses experience it in different ways, but the pressure is the same: how to drive down costs, improve productivity and impact your bottom line.
Flexible working has a role to play in this, with many well documented business benefits. But it can be challenging to justify wholesale change in the workplace routine of your business. And hard to find the impetus to tackle it.
Timewise encourages businesses to think about the long term opportunity cost of not becoming more flexible. For example, leadership teams need to consider the loss of female talent, imagine how workforces will look in 20 years’ time, and ask how a business will compete if it is already giving others a head-start.
We advocate moving forward step by step, rather than adopting an all or nothing approach. It’s likely that some of your teams have already bought into the business case and are putting flexible working into action. It helps to identify and celebrate these successes internally, and then see how you can replicate them in other departments. You could also consider how flexible working can support any change programmes you may have, for example regarding office space or diversity.
Public service organisations engage in flexible working not just as employers, but also as service providers. In addition to the business benefits of getting flexibility right, their interest is sparked by the potential impact that stimulating a quality flexible jobs market can have on improving workplace equality, reducing worklessness and welfare dependency, and driving up family living standards. Through the Timewise Foundation, we have considerable expertise in this area.
Timewise research highlights that just under two million people who need to work flexibly are either locked out of work or stuck in low paid jobs for which they are overqualified. For thousands of people with caring responsibilities, or health or age related needs, the struggle to find a quality part time job is the difference between living in or out of poverty.
The expansion of flexible working opportunities is therefore highly relevant to anyone wanting to tackle these societal issues.
Timewise has partnered with many public service organisations which want to take a lead on flexible working policy and practice, in order to create a more inclusive and family friendly labour market. Local authorities in particular are in a unique position as influencers, to leverage change with local stakeholders and supply chains.
Get in touch for an informal chat about how we can help your business.