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Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2021

Our annual index tracks the increase in flexible jobs. In previous years it has shone a light on the failure of recruitment advertising to keep up with workplace advances in flexible working. So, following the hybrid-working revolution and with the hiring market in crisis, has anything changed?

Flexible jobs index 2021 report

This is Timewise’s 7th annual Flexible Jobs Index, and it coincides with a crisis in the recruitment market. Our report’s implications for business have never been more pressing.

As the economy accelerates out of the pandemic, job vacancies are at their highest level since official records began in 2001, but candidate supply is sluggish. Employers across all sectors are complaining they ‘can’t get the staff’, and in some sectors the situation is becoming a national emergency.

And yet, our index shows that many recruiters are still failing to use flexible working – known to be a key employee benefit – as a tool to maximise job applications. Only 1 in 4 jobs is advertised with flexible working, which turned on its head means that people who need flexibility can’t apply for 3 in 4 jobs.

This is an inexplicable waste of talent in the current economic climate – a recent Timewise survey revealed that many candidates seeking flexible jobs will not apply to job adverts that do not overtly offer flex.

And in addition to the benefit of talent attraction, flexible recruitment helps to foster equality, inclusion and diversity. The groups who most need flex are those with caring commitments (mostly women), older workers, and those with health conditions. So, failing to offer part-time and flexible options at the point of hire inhibits employers’ efforts to build inclusive workforces.

KEY FINDINGS

Proportion of job adverts that offer flexible working

Flexible jobs index 2021 graph

The proportion of jobs offering flexible working rose to 24% at the start of 2021, and to 26% in the period since lockdown ended in April, helped by the increase in home-working during the pandemic. However, the availability of flexible jobs still lags far behind demand – 9 in 10 people want to work flexibly.

Differences in flexibility by role category

Flexible jobs index 2021 graph

Medical/health roles lead the way: at least 1 in 3 job adverts now offer flex (usually in the form of flexible shifts).  And many office-based roles are catching up, such as IT (28%) and marketing (27%). However, other roles which can’t easily offer home-working are getting left behind; the ratio remains stubbornly low for construction (12%), and manufacturing (6%). There is a two-tier workforce of flexible haves and have nots.

Differences in types of flex offered at different salary levels

Flexible jobs index 2021 graph

Further evidence of a two-tier flexible workforce is seen in the disparities across salary levels. Part-time is common amongst the lowest paid jobs (perpetuating the stigma around part-time work) but is relatively rare in higher paid roles. Conversely, home-working and flexible working are disproportionately offered at higher salary levels and rarely in low-paid jobs. These differences will be causing blocks in career progression for people who need flexibility.

What can employers do about this?

In this time of crisis in the recruitment market, employers can use the offer of flexible working, from the point of hire, to maximise candidate applications for jobs.

This is particularly true for home-working. Many employers intend to retain hybrid working patterns in the long-term, and it’s an easy step for them to explain their position in job adverts; but few are doing so.

Hiring managers need to look at job design, and consider which types of flexibility are compatible with the delivery demands of the role. There is no one-size-fits-all flexible working pattern, but there is always a way to offer employees more input and control, even in frontline roles.

Research report downloads

2020 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2019 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2018 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2017 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2016 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2015 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index
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