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Ask the Expert : How can we make flexible working succeed at senior level?

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This article’s answer has been contributed by Timewise who educate, train and help organisations to develop their flexible working and flexible hiring strategies in line with their wider business goals and then showcase these positive actions in their Hire Me My Way campaign.

Question

“I’m getting more and more employees coming in to talk to me about flexible working and whether it’s possible to progress in our company without working full time. Do you have any advice on making flexible working work at a senior level?”

Answer

It’s no surprise that you’re getting increasing numbers of requests for flexible working; and it’s no longer just about childcare.  A government report indicated that 92% of millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting, and at the other end of the workforce, flexible working is becoming a popular way to ease into retirement.

Historically though, flexible work requests have been more likely to be made by returning mothers who want to balance their job with the needs of their family. And if they are offered flexibility, they can end up stuck, due to a lack of more senior flexible roles in their organisation or elsewhere.

This isn’t just a problem for employees; it’s bad news for employers too. It can create a block in the talent pipeline which more junior employees can’t get past. And from a hiring perspective, it immediately limits the pool from which candidates can be found, as many talented individuals can’t consider a non-flexible job.

So what should your organisation do to make flexible working work at a senior level? Here are a few tips:

  • Consider job design carefullyDon’t just assume that cutting the number of days someone works is all it takes to create a flexible role. Look at it from a task and output based perspective and design the role accordingly.
  • Create a supportive culture – Educate and empower your leaders in the benefits of flexible working, and train line managers to implement it effectively. Timewise offer training and consultancy that can support this process.
  • Start as you mean to go on – Don’t just offer senior flexible roles to your own employees. Including the fact that you are open to discussing flexibility in your job adverts will immediately widen your candidate pool.

The future is flexible; and the most successful employers are already adapting to more flexible ways of working. By demonstrating your willingness to do so, both internally and externally, you’ll ensure that your company doesn’t get left behind.

 

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