Home News & eventsNews ‘Happy to talk flexible working’ – the new recruitment strapline

‘Happy to talk flexible working’ – the new recruitment strapline

Published: 25 Sep 2014

Happy to Talk Flexible Working cover

Why employers should be ‘happy to talk flexible working’

Despite great progress there are still huge negative assumptions about flexible and family-friendly working. Part-time work is assumed to be something only women want and it’s often seen as a lack of commitment. A senior flexible role is thought to be impossible.

Working Families is committed to changing this outdated perception of flexible working. We think it’s time employers who make the commitment to family-friendly working get the credit they deserve. So we’ve come up with a strapline for all enlightened employers: Happy to Talk Flexible Working

Using this strapline helps an employer to be identified as one with good strong employment practices and a commitment to the wellbeing of its staff.

We recognise a slogan isn’t enough. So we’ve also produced some simple guidance about job design to help employers who are not yet flexible consider what the job really needs and what type of flexible working might work best. We believe employers who are happy to at least discuss the flexible working deserve recognition.

There are simply too few good quality part-time or otherwise flexible jobs, putting single parents and parents of disabled children at particular disadvantage. Many skilled people are looking for work which could be available part-time or flexibly but which is not advertised as such. We need to make it easier for people to see what is available to them so the strapline is not just about enabling employers to show that they are good employers but to actively widen the talent pool they are fishing in.

Sarah Jackson, Working Families Chief Executive says, “The lack of flexibility in how we organise work brings very real costs in lost skills and experience and a reduced talent pool for employers. We therefore advocate that employers should adopt a flexible-by-default approach to job design and recruitment.

“All jobs should be advertised on a flexible basis unless there is a specific, good business reason not to. The government has the power to introduce this in the public sector whereas it would take legislation to get all private sector organisations to take it up. So we believe that in local and central government it should be adopted as soon as possible.

“Ministers should act and recruit business leaders as ‘flexible working’ champions, and should encourage private sector employers to adopt the Working Families’ Happy to Talk Flexible Working strapline.”

Any employer offering flexible working is welcome to use the Working Families strapline. Our aim is to encourage employers to think about the opportunities of flexible working when designing and advertising jobs.

It helps the interview a very great deal if everyone in the room already knows flexible working will be discussed. The idea of the strapline though is that it helps the job seeker and the employer before they even get to that stage.

For two years Sarah Jackson chaired the “Promoting Flexible Working to Private Sector Employers” Working Group (PSWG) for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The group brought together employer bodies, the TUC and recruiters to find practical ways to deliver culture change outside the legislative process.

The PSWG recognised that too few jobs are advertised flexibly and that employers who only advertise their vacancies on a full-time basis may be fishing from a narrow talent pool.

The Top Employers for Working Families Benchmark 2014 reports that of participating organisations:

·         slightly more than a third routinely analyse a job for the potential for flexibility before advertising it. A quarter of employers ask a hiring manager to justify a full-time working pattern for vacancies

·         Only 21 per cent of employers always identify how flexible a position could be (hours, location and time) to their own workforce in internal adverts; for external adverts, the figure falls to 18 per cent.

And from Timewise: (Timewise, A flexible future for Britain)

·         Nearly two in every five full-time employees want to work part-time or remotely.

·         While 91 per cent of managers said they were willing to talk to candidates about flexi-time options during the recruitment process, only 25 per cent of vacancies advertised in the past year explicitly stated this.


Read the guide to the Happy to talk flexible working strapline

Download the Happy to talk flexible working logo