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Published: 20 Jun 2023

British Society for Rheumatology – Winner 2023, Best for flexible recruitment

The British Society for Rheumatology puts people at the heart of their recruitment process. Their practices reflect their dedication to flexible working, threading it through job design and interviews, with clearly effective results. 

An open approach 

The website has a section dedicated to flexible working, detailing examples of how this works in practice including the autonomy afforded across the workforce and the opportunity to work part time hours and job share, as well as the trialling of a 31.5-hour week. The website also showcases how prospective employees can be supported at interview, including adaptations available or remote interview options. 

Flexible by design 

Flexibility is integral to the culture, which is based on high trust and high performance in recognition that staff perform best when they know they have the autonomy to carry out their jobs alongside the rest of their lives. All staff have a day one right to flexible working. There are no core hours, rather, employees manage their time based on work demands. Other than the receptionist who is based on site, all jobs are hybrid by default. A ‘Ways of Working’ directorate has been co-created with all employees to ensure teams work together effectively asynchronously and as new starters join, these are reviewed to take all employees needs into account. A 4.5 day working week is being trialled, within which employees can manage their own hours. When recruiting, managers must consider the minimum number of hours the role could be per week rather than assume full-time and questions whether there is any business reason the role couldn’t be a job share. HR team support with job design and oversee all adverts before they go live to ensure they display flexibility. 

Fair and inclusive 

Focus is put on making the recruitment process equitable and inclusive in order to be an employer of choice for a wide range of people. Anonymised recruitment is used to counteract cognitive biases. Interview questions are shared in advance in order to help candidates prepare and perform more effectively, whether that is because they can manage their preparation around other commitments, or because it helps with nerves on the day. Potential adjustments for supporting candidates in interview are actively suggested, rather than the onus being on the candidate to ask, and a choice of times and the option to interview remotely is offered. 

Measure of success  

Since improving the employee proposition and refining the recruitment processes the British Society of Rheumatology have reduced the number of times they’ve had to re-run recruitment campaigns from an average of three at the start of 2022 to recruiting first time every time by January 2023. Diversity has also increased substantially following the changes, from 10% of applicants indicating a protected characteristic at the start of 2022 to 64% by the end of 2022. Since initiating a proactive approach to adaptations at interview, candidate satisfaction rates have increased to 85%, regardless of whether they are successful. 

Graphic for the Best for flexible recruitment category of the Working Families Best practice Awards