Emma Stewart MBE, Timewise Joint CEO, talks exclusively about why flexible hiring is shaping the future of the workplace.
We are going through a radical period of change in the workplace. People want a better work-life balance and employers are responding to this. The Government has recognised this with the introduction of flexible working and shared parental leave. The public has also responded with 14.1 million workers now looking for some form of flexibility in their next role.
To push this point further, our Timewise Flexible Jobs Index highlighted that just 6.2% of quality jobs are advertised as open to flexibility at the point of hire. Nowhere is this more important than within local Government, where unprecedented pressure on budgets and services require innovative approaches to job design through both recruitment, workforce planning and commissioning.
Many councils are already undertaking agile programmes, investing in technology and hot-desking to drive a more flexible approach to managing people and services. But, this is only part of the story… Whilst 82% of managers believe flexible working benefits their business, driving a culture where people are empowered to make their own decisions about where, when and how they work, is much harder.
It means a huge shift in approaches to working for both employer and employee alike. To support you through this, we have developed the Timewise Council programme. To help local authorities develop and implement real culture change around flexible working and hiring.
Councils who undertake the programme are supported by us to re-think:
- How to position flexible working in order to maximise performance for their organisation, managers and people
- How recruitment processes can offer more flexible roles and build a more engaged workforce.
The Timewise Council also helps Local Authorities reduce costs when working with external suppliers, especially agencies and social care job design. Councils who lead on flexible hiring have a real opportunity to share their learnings and educate local employers on the benefits it can bring their business, as they have the potential to unlock more, quality, flexible jobs within the local community. This is particularly pertinent for people with family and caring commitments, who are unable to work within a 9-5 or full-time framework.
So why do local authorities decide to become Timewise Councils?
Embracing flexible working and hiring delivers clear returns for organisations and individuals. Recent research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that flexible working could, potentially, add around £11.5 billion to the UK economy.
Larger corporates who have been working with Timewise to implement and manage workplace flexibility, have seen an estimated £15M in financial benefits per annum – through improved productivity, reduced travel and real estate costs. Not to mention improved staff attraction and retention. Flexible working can save organisations money, not add to costs.
A case in point. Timewise Councils seeing business benefit
The London Borough of Camden became the first Timewise Council in 2014 and now encourages flexible working requests as part of all job adverts. Their strategy to support flexible and part-time working is attracting applications from a wider range of quality applicants. Between November 2014 and January 2015, 20% of new starters joined Camden council with a flexible working arrangement in place. Lambeth has become London’s second Timewise Council, and are also incorporating smarter approaches to job design, as well as promoting already existing flexibility in order to both attract a more diverse, skilled talent pool of candidates, and realise efficiencies in how jobs are done.
The full list of Councils who have now achieved Timewise Council status includes: Camden, Lambeth, Islington, Stoke on Trent and Leicestershire county councils; the tri-council partnership between North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. Other Councils currently undertaking the programme to achieve Timewise Council status, includes Enfield, Carlisle, Warwickshire, Taunton Deane, Surrey, Croydon, Tewkesbury and Carlisle city council.
Early feedback suggests these councils are starting to see, or are expecting to see, shifting management attitudes towards presenteeism, with their perceptions changing from having to accommodate flexibility, to seeing that it is very good for business.
This year, the Government Equalities Office and the Local Government Association are supporting the development of a Timewise Council network. Giving authorities the chance to undertake the programme at a subsidised rate, in order to build insight and learning.
We know the challenges for local government are significant, but becoming agile and flexible in how they work and manage their people, is one crucial way to become future fit. As Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth puts it… “Being Timewise allows us to recruit a more diverse workforce and help raise the standard of living for the families of those we employ.”