Why Flexible Recruitment Matters
Published: 10 Oct 2022
This National Work Life Week we wanted a better understanding of the potential that advertising roles with options for flexible working has for opening up opportunities, for both parents and employers.
Alongside our partners at SF Recruitment, we carried out a YouGov survey  of 992 UK parents of children aged 18 and under to ascertain what impact advertising flexibly would have on their choices and careers. The responses highlight that flexibility is a priority for parents and that employers must move beyond seeing flexible working as an ‘added extra’, and instead start to incorporate flex as a fundamental part of the recruitment process if they want to be an attractive employer.
Our research showed that only 3 in 10 UK parents would be likely to apply for a job that did not list flexible working options in the advert, yet 8 in 10 UK parents would likely apply if a job did list flexible working options in the advert (rising to 9 in 10 for unemployed UK parents). The message is clear: by not advertising flexible options, a large portion of the population is being shut out of the labour market, and their wealth of skills and experience are going to waste.
For those whose only route to employment is having flexibility, their ability to find work in a cost-of-living crisis is currently being hindered by the seeming lack of flexible options. With 60% of people who took part in our Working Families Index saying it’s financially harder to raise a family than it was three years ago, it is more important than ever to enable access to employment for those who most need it. Looking ahead, building flexibility into the recruitment process would throw open the doors for many parents to embark on meaningful and financially sustaining work.
Offering flexible options isn’t just crucial for attracting talent, it can be pivotal in keeping hold of precious staff. Over half of working parents in the UK (55%) would be likely to consider leaving their job for another that offered more flexibility, rising to 59% of those in ‘place-based roles’, jobs that must take place at a specific location. With so much valuable talent at stake, and with the added considerations of skills shortages and recruitment costs, overlooking ways to incorporate flexibility could come at great cost.
Helping employers understand the benefits of flexible working and bringing managers on board can facilitate finding flexible working solutions in every role and create a culture where employees feel supported and less likely to look elsewhere.
Flexible working as a priority
For all UK parents, flexibility is second only to pay in terms of priorities when looking for a new job. For mothers, flexibility and pay are tied as the top priority. Flexibility can help a parent meet their caring responsibilities, which can be the difference between working and not. Offering flexible options means that UK parents can access employment so they can secure a meaningful income at a time when it is much needed.
Flexible working can also help parents avoid prohibitive childcare costs: the Working Families Index indicated that a significant number of parents are able to use flexible working to share childcare with their partners instead of having to pay for formal childcare. In a cost-of-living crisis, money saved on childcare can be a lifeline.
The flex ceiling
3 in 10 UK working parents are in jobs below their skills level because their jobs offer greater flexibility, meaning there is a huge amount of talent going to waste. For these parents, flexibility matters more than career progression. The impact for employers is that, by not offering flexible options for high-quality or senior roles, they are significantly limiting the talent pool. Finding flex in every role through using a range of flexible options, such as job share, staggered start times or variable hours, enables employers to attract a wider range of talent to fill senior positions.
Our research found that almost half of working parents in the UK (46%) work in place-based roles, where working remotely is not an option. Without expanding the conversations about flexible working beyond remote and hybrid working, these parents will be left behind, not able to access a better work-life balance. Likewise, their employers will miss out on the potential benefits of a more productive and engaged workforce.
With willingness and innovative thinking, flexible solutions exist in every role, even in place-based roles. The answers lie in better awareness and understanding, as well as having supportive management and structures in place that can respond to the unique needs of parents and businesses in these sectors. It’s not an easy fix, but without addressing these challenges, we’re only solving half the problem.
 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 992 UK Parents of children aged 18 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd – 25th August 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
For a limited time we are giving away a free flexible recruitment guide in the Working Families shop.
Read the press release about the polling results.
Read a joint letter from our employer members calling for all roles to be advertised flexibly by default.