• Fewer than one in 10 vacancies offer flexibility in ‘broken’ jobs market

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  • 24 May 2016
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Employers shun quality talent by failing to openly discuss flexible working during recruitment

A campaign to create one million flexible or part-time job vacancies by 2020 is focusing on changing employer recruitment practices, after research found that fewer than one in 10 job vacancies offered candidates the opportunity to work flexibly.

Analysis of five million job adverts in the second half of 2015 showed that just 8.7 per cent of roles with salaries equivalent to at least £20,000 per year declared an offer of flexible working.

Meanwhile, 79 per cent of people searching for part-time or flexible roles said the jobs market was “broken”.

Karen Mattison, joint chief executive of flexible working consultancy Timewise, which conducted the research, said: “Modern work has changed, with half of the UK workforce now working flexibly.

“The problem is that how we advertise jobs simply hasn’t caught up, leaving people who need a flexible or part-time job completely confused and stuck.”

Timewise has launched the ‘Hire Me My Way’ campaign to showcase employers that are committed to discussing flexible working options during the recruitment process, and to provide free careers advice for jobs seekers trying to navigate the flexible jobs market.

It is almost two years since the government extended the right to request flexible working to all employees with at least 26 weeks' service. Under the legislation, employers are required to deal with such requests in a reasonable manner and give answers within three months unless otherwise agreed.

But Timewise wants organisations to go further. “The big problem is that employers offer flexibility to employees, but they don’t offer it to candidates,” said joint chief executive Emma Stewart.

“This needn’t be a big shift. If you are already comfortable with people in your organisation working flexibly – working from home part of the week, or on a part-time basis – why wouldn’t you be comfortable with being open to that conversation for a potential recruit?”

Lynn Rattigan, chief operating officer for the UK and Ireland at EY, the corporate sponsor for the Hire Me My Way campaign, said: “The needs of the UK’s workforce are changing rapidly and employers need to keep up – not only to support their own business growth, but indeed the competitiveness of the UK economy.

“There is a huge pool of experienced and highly skilled talent that companies are missing out on simply because they fail to mention, from the outset on their job advertisements, that they are open to flexibility.”

The CIPD has pledged to provide job seekers in the North West with six one-to-one mentoring sessions with HR volunteers, to help them with job hunting, interviews and CVs.

Laura Harrison, people and strategy director at the CIPD, said: “Flexible working is becoming the new normal, particularly as people are working for longer and increasingly juggling caring responsibilities.

“Employers need to accept flexible working and integrate it into their hiring processes, otherwise they will undoubtedly miss out on experienced and talented employees.”

Stewart added: “Part of the challenge when you talk about flexible working is understanding what we mean. As part of this campaign we are trying to move away from asking ‘why’ people need to work flexibly, and talk more about ‘how’ they are enabled to.”

Timewise is calling on employers that are happy to discuss flexibility in the hiring process to make a public statement detailing how.

Stewart said the statement should be clear about the scope of flexibility the organisation is happy to offer, whether that is ‘we’re open to a conversation about flexibility for all roles, at all levels of the business’, or ‘we’re open to matching flexibility candidates might have had somewhere else’.

“A lot of people will come prepared with solutions as to how they can do the role flexibly, making it even easier for employers,” said Stewart.

“But employers are potentially missing out on a huge pool of quality talent by deterring flexi-workers at the point of hire.”

Additional reporting by Grace Lewis

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Comments (2)
  • I refuse to get stuck in a ‘broken’ job market mentality…. Life as we know it has changed since FW Taylor and Henry Ford. Employers need to cease lagging behind in their capacity to match job design to the social realities the rest of us are already adjusting to. We have the technology. We have the talent and the willingness. Let’s try to collaborate on creating new work arrangements that flexibly accommodate our personal responsibilities and interests. Work markets where work-life balance for everyone is the norm.

  • Possibly in a hirers' market they feel they can hold out for someone who will work the hours and in the location required by the needs of their business.