Flexible Stats

As we navigate the evolving landscape of the UK job market, there’s a clear trend that’s impossible to ignore: flexibility is no longer just a perk, it’s a necessity. Recent data from Flexa, as reported by Personnel today has revealed some eye-opening trends that highlight why adapting to this new norm is crucial for our businesses.

Over the past year, the number of flexible working roles advertised in the UK saw a whopping 62% increase compared to the same period last year. This surge came just as the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and new regulations kicked in, allowing employees to request flexible working arrangements from their very first day on the job. The message is clear: flexibility is key to attracting and retaining top talent.

But why is this shift so important? Well, besides the legislative push, job seekers themselves are loudly voicing their preferences. Flexa found that searches for fully remote roles surged, with half of the candidates looking specifically for these types of positions. Interestingly, the demand for remote-first roles i.e. where you are primarily a remote worker and in the office or a centralised location very occasionally, remains strong, even as some traditionalists like Boots and EY are nudging their teams back to the office. The shift towards remote opportunities isn’t just a blip on the radar — 43% of roles were advertised as remote-first in January 2024, though this dipped to 31% by March.

What does this mean for employers? First, if we’re not already offering flexible or remote roles, we might be missing out on a significant portion of the talent pool. Even more so, these aren’t just “nice-to-haves” but are becoming deal-breakers for many job seekers.

Flexa’s CEO, Molly Johnson-Jones, pointed out that while some novel forms of flexibility like “work from anywhere” schemes are declining, core benefits like remote roles are non-negotiable for many. Today’s job seekers are more demanding when looking for roles, looking not just at the role itself, but the company culture, ethos and values. How much holiday is available? How much parental leave is paid vs unpaid? What does the business stand for?

So how do employers adapt and thrive:

Promoting Flexibility in Job Ads: Clearly highlight the availability of remote and flexible working options in your job postings. This transparency not only attracts candidates who prioritise these features but also sets a clear expectation of your company’s culture.

Staying ahead of Legislative Changes: Ensure your policies align with new laws, such as the Flexible Working Act. Look at the minimum standards set by the law and look at what, if anything you are willing and able to do above this threshold. This not only helps in compliance but also demonstrates to potential hires that you’re a forward-thinking employer.

Tuning into Market Needs: Keep an eye on job market trends and adjust your offerings accordingly. As preferences shift, staying adaptable will keep your business competitive and attractive to top talent. You need to be able to position yourself as an employer of choice.

Beyond remote / hybrid working: Flexibility in a job may include variations to hours and days, as well as work location. Some jobs cannot be done remotely, for example those in the hospitality, retail or care industry, but flexibility for those employees is just as important as for ‘office’ type employees.

Fostering an Engaging Working Environment: While promoting remote work, don’t forget the benefits of an office setting. Offices are great for training, collaboration, mentorship, and building a community. Balancing this with the flexibility of remote work could be your strategy for a hybrid workplace model.

Optimising Remote Work Benefits: Enhance the work-from-home experience by providing necessary tools and technology. This not only boosts productivity but also employee satisfaction.

As we look forward, it’s clear that embracing flexibility is more than just a temporary adjustment. It’s a strategic approach to future-proofing our businesses and ensuring we remain attractive to the best and brightest minds out there. Let’s not view flexibility as a challenge, but as an exciting opportunity to redefine how we work and thrive in this new era of the job market.