03 Mar 2020

Our lead consultant Christine Ebeling - Long discusses how important flexible working has become and why as an employer you need to consider your offering to staff. 

When I ask candidates what they are looking for in a new role more and more frequently one of their top three requirements is flexible working (along with location and salary package). 

Clearly this is something employers need to take more seriously - and some of them certainly are - but what I have learned is that Flexible Working means different things to different people.

So what does flexible working mean to you?

According to Citizens Advice online Flexible Working is the name given to any type of working pattern which is different from your existing one.  Flexible working arrangements might include:

  • changing from full-time to part-time work
  • changing the part-time hours that you work, for example from weekends to weekdays
  • changing working hours to fit in with, for example, school hours, college hours or care arrangements
  • compressed hours, that is, working your usual hours in fewer days
  • flexitime, which allows you to fit your working hours around agreed core times
  • working from home or remotely for part or all of the time
  • job sharing
  • self-rostering, where your shift pattern is drawn up to match your preferred times as closely as possible
  • shift working
  • staggered hours, which allow you to start and finish your days at different times
  • time off in lieu
  • annualised hours, where your working time is organised around the number of hours to be worked over a year rather than over a week
  • term-time work, so you don’t work during the school holidays

Whatever the type of flexibility you are looking for, think about what works best for you and be clear with your employers about what you want and why you need it.

Who wants flexible working?

Recent UK research by Capability Jane reveals

  • 92% of Millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting
  • 80% of women and 52% of men want flexibility in their next role
  • 70% of UK employees feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them
  • 30% would prefer flexible working to a pay rise
  • most over-50s want to ease slowly into retirement through reducing hours and working flexibly.

However, fewer than 10% of UK advertised jobs currently offer flexibility and the gap between supply and demand is huge.

So what can you do to try to get more flexible working hours?

Rather than looking for a new role, I would recommend speaking to your existing employers first. They know you, you are hopefully a valued employee, and it will usually be in their best interests to want to keep you.  Have a clear understanding of what you need and why and go to them with a considered proposal. As of 2014 any employee now has a legal right to make a flexible working request once they have been in the job for 6 months.

If you are looking for a new role with flexible hours, ensure your recruiter is aware of this upfront, be clear about what you mean by flexibility, what you can and can’t consider and why?

Don’t spring your need for flexibility on your potential employer at the job offer stage as this is unfair, if this is something you must have you really do need to mention this upfront when you apply for a role. However, if you can afford to be flexible ask at interview stage what the options are and be clear and open with them about what you would like.

As with any negotiation or relationship, remember flexibility works both ways.

I would be very keen to hear any thoughts, experiences and advice you are able to share?

Contact Christine. 

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