It was a daunting experience, particularly because I’ve been lucky to have worked in the housing sector, where work life balance is done pretty well. As a working mother of 3 teenagers, flexibility is very important to me.
Fortunately for me, rather than researching and comparing company policies, I was able to have open conversations about flexible working and career development opportunities, with my now employer. It was an easy choice; Badenoch + Clark could talk me through how their team actually worked flexibly. Some other companies could only offer vaguely worded promises, buried in their websites. What made the difference was not just transparency, but hearing how others at Badenoch + Clark made flexible work, work for them, and how it could work for me.
Some organisations are publicising flexible working policies; with a view to attracting more female candidates. Having been the candidate myself, I’d argue that even a well worded policy is not a guarantee of access to genuine flexibility. What’s more, diversity, like flexible working, isn’t only about women.
When done properly, flexible working can open up opportunities for other underrepresented groups and also better caters for the modern, multi-generational workforce. A new CIPD report, Diversity and Inclusion at work: facing up to the business case, highlights how flexible working can be a facilitator of, or a barrier to diversity in the work place. The more we are able to adapt the way (or at least the hours in which) a job is done, the more opportunities we have to find and retain the best possible candidates for the role.
The criteria to actually qualify for flexible working can be more of a sticking point for many employees, than whether or not it is available at all. All too often employees feel it is reserved for us working mothers. In reality 84% of men are currently, or would like to be working flexibly (according to Timewise research). This illustrates that this need not be a gender specific issue. If an organisation can only demonstrate that it affords mothers or even parents, flexibility, it is inevitably alienating a substantial section of it’s work force.
If a company can show it is committed to a flexible working environment for all staff, it proves that the organisation has done the real work of driving a cultural change.
Candidates are often impressed by companies that demonstrate such integrity. In our team of eight at Badenoch + Clark I’m one of three mums who utilise a combination of working from home and part time hours. Anyone in our team can work condensed hours. One of my colleagues works staggered hours to better suit his commute and our newest recruit works flexibly to run a small business on the side. All of this has driven a culture of trust, high performance and overall employee satisfaction.
We know that flexible working can increase productivity, and work satisfaction, but many employees still fear the stigma. Businesses that have a truly flexible culture should take the onus on themselves to not just share but demonstrate just how flexible they really are.
How do you sell your flexible working approach in the recruitment process? What benefits do you see from this?