When recruiting the perfect 'dream team' work force it's easy to assume it's a one size fits all approach. Monday to Friday, 9 - 5, that's how it goes, isn't it? Well, actually no, not anymore it isn't.
Many employers are wising up to the fact that there are a lot of talented workers out there, whose lifestyle commitments don't necessarily fit into the conventional working hours. As a result, companies are now much more open to creating bespoke working arrangements to ensure that they can secure the best possible employees.
Fitting square pegs into round holes
The key factor when recruiting new members of staff is ensuring that their skills, personality and work ethic match the requirements of the position. And, if they can only work specific hours each week? Well that needs to be a secondary consideration when it comes to bagging the best talent.
Flexible working is becoming the norm of many companies, with different packages suiting different people. Two common areas where flexibility may be required are:
- Working parents often request part time hours or job shares that fit around the school rum and/or term time to minimise child care costs
- Those facing longer commutes may favour hours that avoid peak times, eg. starting and finishing an hour later to miss both morning and evening rush hours, or shorter working weeks consisting of longer hours.
Flexible working doesn't have to come hand in hand with 'special' circumstances, however. Any employee is entitled to request flexible working hours, and it is up to the individual company to determine whether that is feasible.
Put it down to experience
One hugely underrated area of workplace gold is in parents returning to work after taking time out in the early child rearing days. With many people choosing to achieve career fulfilment before having a family, it means that once they decide to return to the workplace they are ready qualified and experienced in their area.
As the saying goes, if you want something doing ask a working parent! In the majority of cases, employers find that working parents offer excellent organisational and multitasking skills, and by the very nature of them portioning their hours to work or parent, once they are in the work place they are 100% there.
You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours
There is a lot to be said for give and take in the work place. Employees who feel like their needs have been catered for are far more likely to feel valued and subsequently over deliver within the hours that they are there.
Pre-empting potential set backs isn't necessarily a bad thing. With the best will in the world, there is no avoiding the fact that children are occasionally going to be off sick, traffic is likely to get gridlocked and trains will be cancelled. Admittedly, these factors can be annoying for employers, but the benefits of having staff who are committed to making the arrangement work against all the odds usually far outweighs any potential negatives.
Therefore, by acknowledging these factors and arranging 'back up planes' (namely putting resources in place for employees to work from home if necessary), will ensure that the show will go on regardless.
The old age problem
Despite the discrimination laws, there is still the worry that employees are only looking for keen young bloods who are hot out of Uni and ready to set the career world on fire. Whilst this raw ambition and lower starting salaries are undeniably attractive to potential employers, there is no denying the value of experience and maturity.
Increasingly companies are embracing this wave of experienced candidates who are returning to the workplace, for the follow reasons:
- Employers can often expect more loyalty from mature candidates, as there is less chance of them using the position as a stepping-stone to the next job.
- On site training is often reduced as the employees have previously held similar roles. They may also be able to share their experience to assist with the training of younger employees.
- Working hours are less likely to be affected by the implications for a social life.
Looking at the bigger picture
The trick to making flexibility in the workplace successful is to look at the bigger picture. Yes, it can take some adjustments to make a new set up work, but the benefits of having a bespoke workforce, consisting of the best possible candidates for their positions far outweighs any initial teething problems.
Once employers begin to acknowledge the wealth of talent that can be unleashed by looking at flexible working, it is hard to imagine building a workplace any other way.