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The importance of flexible working

Room for improvement in the industry 

Employers and marketing leaders need to grasp the seriousness of offering flexibility in their workplaces. Having been discussed for a few years now, 2017 felt like the year that its impact began to be felt and candidates truly made more demands to improve their work-life balance. Given its increasing importance, for the first time we asked marketers about their flexible working habits.

66% of our respondents said they would turn down a new role without flexible working or flexitime, which increased 2% year-on-year.

Conversely, working from home isn’t the norm for marketers, with 63% still commuting to a desk every day.  And though it is comforting to see that 70% of those who care for children are afforded the adaptability they need, that still means 30% of employers don’t allow working parents’ flexible arrangements. This is mirrored by the 30% of women who would turn down a new role if flexible working or flexitime wasn’t available.  Employers are therefore reducing their talent pool by up to a third before even starting the hiring process by not offering flexible working.

A genuine attraction and retention technique

In 2017 we witnessed flexible working becoming a key tactic in negotiations. Seeking a better work-life balance was one of the reasons 16% of our candidates cited for leaving their last position. In most sectors this year we have spoken to employers who are focussing on employee benefits that improve work-life balance to enhance their employer value proposition (EVP), and flexible working is fundamental to this. 

In some industries, such as Financial Services, we have seen flexibility be one of the key differences between larger, more mature brands and more the more agile, start-ups in sub-sectors such as fintech or proptech.  As such we have seen more part-time roles and home working options, for example, as companies recognise the need to retain and attract talent, especially working mothers.  


The benefits of flexible working 

The official Government definition of flexible working states that, “flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, e.g. having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.” It also stipulates that all employees, not just parents and carers, have a legal right to request flexible working of their employer.

Although it does tend to be older employees who have families that require flexible working, our research found that over half of marketers in their 20s consider flexible working or flexitime vital when considering a new role. Many younger workers expect to be able to adopt a more flexible approach to work as they’re used to being ‘always on’ digitally. But it has taken a while for organisations to catch up. 

Research has shown that flexible working policies can improve staff engagement, motivation and therefore productivity. Employees know that they no longer have to be seen in the office at all times in order to be productive. An environment that lets them prove it will ultimately retain them for longer. 

How to make flexible working work for you

From an employer perspective, technology is an essential enabler for working flexibly. It could be one of the reasons why 62% of our respondents consider the provision of a device such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet essential when looking for a new job. Investigate ways you can encourage remote working if your companies’ tech isn’t up to scratch. For example, do your employees need to access shared drives, or can you save documents in the cloud? Conference calls and webex’s can replace face-to-face meetings. 

If flexible working is a particular feature at your company, then include it in your job specification. Values such as this included in the opening statement of a job advert are far more likely to attract a range of top talent for your consideration.  

And for candidates, no matter why flexible working is important to you, remember that you have the right to request it at your current organisation. When looking for a new role, highlight it to your recruiter at the start. And similarly, remember that interviews are a two-way street. Take the opportunity to ask what flexible working arrangements are on offer elsewhere in the company. 

Download our Hybrid Working Report 2021 here.  

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