Flexible working relieves hard-to-fill vacancies pressure

Flexible Hiring Champions pilot launches to widen talent pools for employers and address barriers to flexibility at work

Man with baby and laptop working from home

The Timewise Foundation has published its latest Flexible Jobs Index, their annual report on the percentage of jobs which are advertised as being open to flexibility. Despite demand for flexible working being at an all-time high, only 21.2% of jobs under £20K FTE and 11.1% of jobs over £20K FTE are advertised as being flexible. The percentage of jobs being advertised as open to flexibility has only risen by a small amount since the index was first published in 2016, highlighting the need to further challenge employers to think outside the box when it comes to the traditional model of a job. In order to tackle this we are working in partnership with the Timewise Foundation on a new pilot which harnesses CIPD members to become Flexible Hiring Champions – to challenge current misconceptions and help leaders and managers build more innovative and inclusive workplaces.


Why does this matter?

As many as 87% of employees either work flexibly or wish they could. Furthermore, demographic trends indicate that, as the population ages, there will be more people who have caring needs or responsibilities who want to work. This, coupled with imminent restrictions to migrant labour flows due to Brexit, means that employers will need to recruit from a broader and more diverse talent pool. Promoting genuine flexibility in the workplace is not just for the benefit of employees; it makes workplaces more inclusive, and provides employers the opportunity to tap into skilled workers they might otherwise miss out on. 

In addition, flexible working is key to unlocking employment and progression opportunities across many under-represented groups in the labour market. It can also play a crucial role in an organisation’s performance through enabling better work-life balance, improving employee engagement and retention and key outcomes including productivity and delivering more flexible service to customers. 


What can be done?

Our research shows that there are a number of obstacles to employers providing flexible working arrangements. This includes a lack of understanding and support amongst line managers and business leaders, and long engrained working cultures of presenteeism and traditional standard working hours. 

CIPD’s first comprehensive survey of the UK workforce shows that the most commonly available options for working flexibly are flexi-time (the ability to choose the start and finish time of the working day) (available to 42% of workers) and working from home in normal working hours (40%). One in three (34%) have the chance to reduce their working hours (for example full-time to part-time) and one in four (25%) the option to work compressed hours (the same number of hours per week across fewer days). Job-sharing (sharing a full-time job with someone) and working only during school term times are less common options, being available to 12% and 11% respectively.

We’re collaborating with the Timewise Foundation, whose core mission is to shape and grow the flexible jobs market in the UK so that everyone can find the flexibility they need in their careers without reducing their value in the workplace. Together, we are running a pilot with 20 CIPD members to act as Flexible Hiring Champions. These champions, senior level HR professionals based in London and Manchester, are volunteers who are keen and committed to making positive change both within and outside their organisations. They come from a range of sectors, including charities, housing, healthcare, education, finance and media. And they are already making changes, including helping to increase the number of jobs advertised as flexible at the point of hire. 

As the pilot progresses we hope to share their stories with you, as we believe there is much to learn from others who have been successful at paving the way for flexible hiring in their own organisations.

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