June 20, 2014
Contrary to the recent report by Robert Half, which found that larger firms use flexible working to attract staff, hiring managers are failing to keep pace with the growing trend for flexible work. According to research by the Timewise Foundation, two in every five full time workers want to work fewer hours or remotely, on top of the one in four workers already in part time jobs. Yet only a quarter of job advertisements mention flexible options. Following previous research which found that two in five people worry about asking their employers to allow them to work flexibly; new research amongst employers asked how receptive they were to job applications from candidates who need flexibility. The research found that while the vast majority (9 in 10) say they welcome questions about flexible working – candidates still face significant barriers when it comes to finding a brand new flexible job.
Of the 500 UK-based managers interviewed, all responsible for the key hiring decisions made within their teams, one in five respondents said: “No roles are open to flexibility within my organisation, at the point of advertising.” Most (57% )say that when conversations about flexible working do occur, they tend to happen mid process, at the interview stage.
And while most managers feel confident in how to deal with queries about flexible working in the recruitment process, three quarters(75%) say they had ‘never have had any training’ on how to handle such enquiries When candidates call to enquire about flexible working options for vacancies advertised as ‘full time only’ – most managers say they feel ‘pleased’ to hear from them, though just under a third (30%) feel ‘annoyed’ and 1 in 10 feel their time is being wasted
However seven in 10 managers believe would-be flexible workers are “underused as a pool of talent” and the vast majority, (91%) say they are open to discussing flexible working options within the recruitment process itself.
While managers believe that flexible workers are often skilled and experienced, more than two thirds (69%) believe flexible workers are ‘less ambitious’ than full time workers
Most worrying for anyone who wants to work flexibly but would like to further their career, many managers still assume that flexible workers cannot be ambitious or hold posts with key responsibilities. When asked what deciding factors prevents a role from being offered with flexible working possibilities, the most common answer was “flexible working does not tend to be offered for roles with key responsibilities within my organisation.”
In response to these findings Timewise recommends that a more transparent process is needed in recruitment, particularly at the point of advertising new vacancies, so they better reflect the possibilities of how a role can be worked. It also says that successful examples of flexible working in practice should be made more visible.