How flexibility can tip the scale for candidates

How flexibility can tip the scale for candidates
Workplace flexibility has become so important that 35% of UK workers interviewed say it’s one of the top three factors they consider when making career decisions – according to the latest research from ManpowerGroup Solutions.

This includes a broad spectrum of working arrangements, such as flexible arrival and departure times; homeworking policies; compressed hours and shifts; and greater choice and control in shift patterns.

While no employer can accommodate every option, it’s increasingly important that they implement and facilitate a range of flexible working policies to ensure their organisation appeals to candidates at each stage of their career.

The growing importance of workplace flexibility can be attributed to a wide range of factors – such as the growing sophistication of technology and recent UK legislative changes. Companies that implement some type of flexible working policy will be better positioned to recruit and retain in-demand talent.

It is a win-win situation that is reflective of both employee and employer needs. After all, as companies become more multinational in their scope of service, suppliers and products, they will require a workforce that can operate flexibly in terms of hours and locations.

Added to this, flexible work arrangements have the power to uncover new groups of potential candidates who have faced challenges fitting into a traditional workforce culture. Students, retirees and people with disabilities are just a few examples of potential candidate pools that flexibility can reveal to employers.

Evolution, not revolution

Increasingly, HR professionals understand they need to engage people with flexible work arrangements. However, equipping hiring managers to support such practices is slower in coming.

Many companies struggle with entrenched cultures that have a stigma around flexibility. This often means success is still measured based on workplace attendance, rather than performance and quality of outcomes.

Companies don’t have to force the transition from a traditional to virtual workplace overnight. Evolution, rather than revolution, will help to bridge the gap between traditional styles of management and more autonomous teamwork.

To start this process, employers should consider implementing internal educational campaigns to normalise local independence for all employees and neutralise flexibility stigma. Investment in technology will also be required to successfully implement and manage different flexible workplace arrangements. Finally, they will need to create a results-orientated work environment, where incentives are aligned with outcomes or outputs, not just inputs. By focusing on setting goals and deadlines, there will be less emphasis on when employees might clock in or out.

Workplace flexibility as a talent management policy is no longer an option – it is an essential practice that enables organisations to attract and develop skilled talent. For more information on the importance of workplace flexibility, download the whitepaper – Work, for Me: Understanding Candidate Preferences for Flexibility.

This article first appeared in the seventh edition of The Human Age Newspaper.