I’ve heard quite a bit about flexible working over the last few weeks. A number of our key clients offer flexible working and an ‘adult’ environment, where as long as the work gets done and everyone is there during ‘core hours’, then start and finish times are a personal choice. Here at Forward Role we have a number of consultants on flexible contracts: from a ‘return to work mum’ on two days a week, a few consultants on three or four days and an open policy at lunch, allowing up to two hours as long as you’re doing something interesting; we also have home working when needed and an open holiday scheme.
The law actually changed last year so that flexible working became available for all employees providing they met the minimum criteria of being continuously employed for 26 weeks or more. These individuals are now able to request to work flexibly, although only one request for a flexible working pattern can be made within a 12 month period. This can include a change to hours/days worked, work location or term time only working.
So, in a market which is candidate poor and the best talent gets snapped up immediately why aren’t all businesses looking to operate this way? One of the main reasons I hear from candidates why they are looking to move on is the working environment; finding a better work-life balance or needing flexibility. I think a significant number of companies are holding onto the traditional idea that employees must be tied to their desks around strict hours so that there’s an element of control. The reality is that output is usually increased, commuting becomes less of an issue and people can work at times when they are the most productive (according to a recent ACAS homeworking report).
I read in a recent Gallop poll that 34.1% of employees feel engaged in their current role and that’s a new high! 34%! I would love for someone to do the same survey and link it to flexible working, I’m sure there would be a direct correlation. Whatever the result the situation is still the same – I’m talking to lots of candidates who are voting with their feet and they are only going in one direction. The answer is unavoidable - businesses need to move with the times and offer flexible working to attract and retain the best people.
Brian Johnson is Sales Director a Forward Role Recruitment. If you would like to discuss opportunities either at Forward Role or with one of our clients, then Brian would be happy to hear from you.