Last Friday, I caught up with an old client for coffee 12 months on from setting up shop in Sydney. A lot can change in recruitment in a year so I was keen to find out the usual… what have been the successes, the challenges, the opportunities and importantly what has changed since we last met. Having made a number of “signature” hires, one major change was that they had made the executive decision to embrace work place flexibility for all staff.
In today’s recruitment world flexibility is fast becoming another perk / benefit for consultants regardless of level or tenure to consider. Flexibility comes in many forms, be it compressing work days, offering flexible hours, sabbaticals, job sharing, working from home etc. There are definitely pros and cons to offering workplace flexibility, with both advantages and challenges existing for both the employer and the employee.
- Employee of Choice – offering a flexible working environment where you are encouraged to look after your personal life when you need to the most, will be viewed as a major plus. It is a very effective method of attracting and retaining loyal staff encouraging a happier, more satisfied work force. Everyone works differently; some, like Clare Barton, are most effective between 6.30am-8.00am whilst I operate best when the light starts fading! Offering flexibility encourages both staff and potential candidates the opportunity to adapt as individuals, not “bums on seats” to the unique demands that modern life has for them.
- Increase in Productivity / Employee Engagement – having previously worked in a shared office, I have seen first-hand how a number of return to work mum’s would smash their work out being more productive and in turn, getting more effective results working 4 days than their “full time counterparts”. Ernst & Young commented on a growing trend whereby the more flexible a business, the reduced number of sick days used per employee.
- Taking Advantage – there always seems to be a select group that will take advantage of any situation and will use the flexibility to nurse that Monday morning hangover, binge watch the latest Netflix drama or will simply not produce the results associated with the supervision provided in traditional recruitment environment.
- Control, Results & the Blame Game – sometimes there is nothing you can do if the results don’t go your way. It is however, easy for both employees and employers to play the “blame game” around offering too much / too little flexibility. Employers may feel a lack of control and/or awareness, whilst employees might feel a lack of appreciation of the work being carried out in a flexible basis.
- Breakdown in Communication – There may be communication breakdowns if it is difficult to get hold of staff which may impact on the co-ordination and effectiveness of a recruitment process. I think about the amount of times I have asked a colleague for their input and come away the better; would this be the case if I had to phone them and wait to leave a voicemail? A lack of contact with colleagues at the office could also limit the cohesiveness of teams and exchange of ideas.
These are just a few bullet points to the Pro’s and Con’s of a flexible working. There is no doubt that it is here to stay; it is now up to both the employer and the employee to strike an effective, balanced approach for it to be a success.