How to attract talent with flexibility?

Flexible working is the future

Flexible working can be defined as a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example, having flexible start and finish times or working from home. It is an umbrella term and can be interpreted in many ways because flexible working has many types.

Candidates are increasingly searching for employers that offer flexible working and employers are looking for ways to meet this expectation.

Startups and tech companies seem to have the upper hand in offering flexible work conditions, and other companies feel like they are missing out. However, only 3 in 10 jobs are advertised with flexible working – or, to look at it another way, people who need flexibility cannot apply for 7 in 10 jobs. 

In this blog article, Teamdash co-founder Marie Evart and Flexa’s founder Molly Johnson-Jones discuss the future of flexible working, the trends and opportunities for employers, and how to communicate it in your job ads. Hope you get tips and ideas to incorporate flexibility in your EVP.

Btw, Molly also participated in our survey Key trends trends for recruitment in 2024 – predictions from 15 experts.

The types of flexible working

  • Job sharing – Two people do one job and split the hours.
  • Remote working and working from home – Working from anywhere other than the employee’s usual workplace in the office.
  • Hybrid working – A combination of working remotely and working in the employee’s usual workplace.
  • Part-time – Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).
  • Compressed hours – Working full-time hours but over fewer days – for example, a 9-day fortnight or a 4-day workweek
  • Flexitime – The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example, 11 am to 3 pm daily, to ensure collaboration.
  • Annualised hours – The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year, but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.
  • Staggered hours – The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers. Also known as asynchronous working.
  • Phased retirement – The default retirement age has been phased out, and older workers can choose when to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part-time.
Marie Evart, Teamdash's co-founder, and Molly Johnson-Jones, the founder of Flexa discuss candidate expectations about flexibility and ways to meet the expectations.

How was Flexa founded?

Flexa is the global search engine for super flexible companies. Flexa’s story begins in 2019 when Molly still worked in investment banking and was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. Molly needed to ask her employer for an opportunity to work from home 1 day a week after being employed there for 18 months. Otherwise, she would have had to use her sick days.

Instead of a positive response to her request, Molly was handed a severance package.

When she started looking for a flexible employer who would enable her to accommodate working from home, it turned out to be difficult. She had to go through hundreds of job descriptions, and it was nearly impossible to find a suitable employer. The idea for Flexa was born.

Flexa’s way of working

Fast forward 5 years, and now Flexa leads the way in flexibility and helps people and employers find a suitable and flexible match. Of course, Flexa practices what they preach.

This all is showcased in Flexa’s way of working, which is based on set principles.
They meet once a month for team day in the office to have the opportunity for in-person collaboration and strategy. Flexibility is the key – they allow people to choose core hours, and they have 45 days a year for holidays to give people the time to switch off their brains and travel.

The principles are set on Molly creating an environment she wants to work in and then asking the workers what they are looking for – not creating something that no one wants. For example, the additional holiday idea came from wanting to improve efficiency without interrupting business continuity.

Of course, Molly has only used Flexa for hiring. In their EVP, they aim for total transparency in communication. The candidates are given information upfront. This way, the candidate knows what to expect even before they apply, and they can evaluate whether Flexa’s way of working fits them.

Three myths about flexible working

  1. People are not as productive at home as they are in the office.
    It misconception makes selling the idea of offering flexibility difficult. However, many studies have largely proven that this is not the case. Productivity is not connected to sitting in your seat at the office. The same people will be unproductive regardless of where they are sitting.
    According to a study by Microsoft, people are more likely to be productive when they can plan their own schedules.
  2. It is difficult to keep the culture.
    Yes, it is more difficult, but not as difficult as people think. Even meeting up in person once a quarter is enough to maintain and foster the culture. There is no denying that social ties and connections are important. So is making people aware of what the culture in the company is. That’s why instant messaging tools are important. And these instant messaging tools are not only about work but also about helping people get to know each other. To help keep employees connected remotely, you can run online and offline meetings and team events. We are used to having 1:1 meetings between managers and their employees, but a study also recommends that employees have 1:1 meetings with each other – it showed a 24% increase in sales figures.

    1:1s in 2024:
    20-minute meetings that focus on progression, engagement, long-term goals and feedback
  3. It is difficult to collaborate.
    While meetings are important, meetings that could be emails are not. Minimise meetings as much as possible – don’t have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. Hold 1-2 internal meetings a week and regular 1:1 meetings for a chance to work together. When working asynchronously, you can also leave voice notes. Remote and in-person working are complimentary to each other. When you have big meetings in person, it encourages collaboration.
Flexibility and adaptability

What are the candidate’s expectations about flexibility?

Flexibility is a spectrum – one person’s definition of flexibility can be different from another person’s.

However, you can say that over half of people are searching for fully remote positions, but:

  • 25% of companies are offering remote working

60% of candidates are searching for flexible hours

  • 33% of companies offer flexible hours

19% of people want dog-friendly offices and also 19% of employers offer that.

Candidates are also looking for the ability to work part-time – which allows working parents to stay in the workforce.

77% of people want a work-from-anywhere scheme

  • 10% offer that – mostly because of the taxation issues.

Flexible working expectations by generations

  • For the older generation, employees aged 55+, flexibility is not something that they care deeply about – they are happy to go to the office, and it’s especially prevalent among men.
  • Millennials are keen on flexibility – they are looking for ways to work from home and flexible hours
  • Gen Z cares less about flexibility for the sake of flexibility. They are looking for choice- the ability to choose whether they want to go to the office or not themselves.

Overall, more than 75% of people want flexible work. The demand for fully remote work has doubled in the past 2 years, and work from anywhere shows the same trend.

What has changed in how candidates apply for jobs?

People used to apply for hundreds of jobs at the same time; now, candidates are more selective and do much more research. They apply to fewer jobs. This means, as an employer, you get fewer candidates, but they are a better match. As a company, you need to evaluate your offer and how attractive it is and focus on your employer brand.

  • One way of doing it is putting a salary range on the job ad – it often leads to fewer applications, but the applications are better qualified.
  • Talk about ways of talking about working. If you don’t have an office, communicate that early, as there are still candidates who are looking for a chance to come to the office.
  • Be clear in your approach to diversity. This is also something that helps attract global talent.
  • Candidates expect feedback as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the end of the application deadline to get back to candidates. If you haven’t contacted the candidate in the first three days, they will look for alternatives.
  • Making it smoother and easier for the candidates to apply. Make sure your forms are mobile-friendly.
  • Employers who put extra effort into candidate experience and give more information have an edge in hiring. Without technology, it’s difficult to achieve it.

How do you train your staff when you’re fully remote?

  • Don’t overcomplicate it.
  • Make yourself available as a manager or colleague. Similar to when someone needs you in the office setting.
  • Proper orientation – well-documented, clear on goals and activities.
  • Make roles clear

Differences in flexible working between sectors

It’s evident that the technology companies are more open to flexible solutions. Tech has always embraced some form of flexibility. Series A to C startups are usually very flexible.
The coolest benefit Molly has seen was the work-from-anywhere scheme in partnership with Airbnb.

Flexa has surveyed thousands of companies on what flexibility is across various industries, enabling you to benchmark against the market.

What can be seen from these surveys is that the sectors lagging behind are finance, recruitment and insurance. But we can also see Fintechs, recruiters and Insurtech companies pushing back against the stereotype.

Flexibility in companies that can’t offer remote working

Every company can be flexible from the head office view, but it is not possible for some roles.

There is a divide between office-spaced work and hourly-paid jobs. Hourly paid jobs tend to have less security – people take on as many shifts as possible to not lose their income.

Consider the hospitality and retail sectors, for example. It wouldn’t be possible to offer working-from-home or work-from-anywhere schemes here, but you can focus on:

  • Flexible hours
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Additional paid holidays
  • Additional paid sick leave
  • Additional parental leave
  • Individualised approach to different benefits – choose what you would like to use

These are all great aspects to give a shoutout about in your job ads and career page. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to showcase your company culture. 

Common mistakes to avoid in job ads

3 main areas for improvement in job ads:

  1. Ensure that your job description isn’t one-sided and geared towards the company and the requirements. Sell yourself as a company. What’s in it for the candidate
  2. Limit the requirements. Companies tend to say that they have 12 must-haves. You might need 4 of them and 8 nice-to-have. Adjust your job ad accordingly.
  3. Don’t make a job description boring to read. Incorporate company culture and character into it. Make it sound fun and engaging. Have a template to keep consistency in the style and branding.

Read more about creating attractive job ads in Marie’s blog article.

Words to avoid in job ads

Marie did research where she checked more than 200 job ads on job boards. Here are cliches and messages that can be seen on every other job ad and that are better to avoid.

  • Fun & supportive culture
  • Competitive salary
  • Friendly team
  • Growth or learning opportunities

These are all good things, but they do not describe what they mean and don’t differentiate you from the competitors. The hiring process should be fun for both sides. It shouldn’t be a formal process.

Also, avoid calling your employees or candidates rockstars and ninjas unless you are really hiring for those positions. 

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Merilyn Uudmae


Content Marketing Manager

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