Flexible Working for Recruitment and Retention in the UK

Flexible Working for Recruitment and Retention in the UK

The pandemic has dramatically shifted the landscape on flexible working. Back in 2019, Office for National Statistics figures showed that 1.7 million people worked mainly from home, with less than 30% of the workforce working from home in the week prior to the figures being collected. The numbers of those mainly working from home only represented around 5% of the 32.6 million in employment overall at that time. By 2022, 14% were exclusively working from home and 80% stated that they planned for hybrid work (between the office and home) going forward. There is no doubt that flexible working is here to stay.

Given the dramatic changes to ways of working that have come about over the past several years, employers need to ensure that they are best placed to offer different types of flexible working to employees. This will position them effectively to attract top talent for the different roles they seek to fill. It is helpful to consider the background to an increasing need for flexible working, the different options available, and how integrating these options into recruitment and retention is important in attracting top talent to the organisation.



Many employees want flexible working options. In fact, figures suggest that 82% of workers want flexible working, and this figure is higher (87%) when women are considered separately. There are also significant benefits to the employer of offering flexible working. The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) in the UK has outlined direct employer benefits, suggesting that these include cost savings to be made on office space, and a better opportunity for businesses to align themselves to meet customer demand. However, there are also many important indirect employer benefits, such as the fact that research shows job satisfaction and employee wellbeing is increased through flexible working. Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting that effort is higher among employees that have flexible working, with absentee rates lowering too. All-in-all, there is a solid business case for offering employees flexible working, and employees generally now expect this. Employers that are not flexible about different possible options will lose out on talent and find it harder to recruit and retain staff.

While there is a tendency to think of flexible working as working from home or hybrid working, there are many other types of working that fall into the category of “flexible working.” These provide employers with a range of opportunities to be flexible, which different employees may appreciate. Read on to learn to refine and best shape and promote the employer brand, once the business is clear on the types of flexible working it can offer to different roles at the organisation.


What Is Flexible Working?

In the UK, the government defines flexible working as being “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.” In the past, flexible working was offered mostly just to parents or caregivers, but this has completely changed. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working as an option, and employers are obliged to consider it. It should be noted that there are different rules on flexible working in Northern Ireland when compared with the rest of the United Kingdom.


Types of Flexible Working

There are a variety of different types of flexible working defined by the UK Government. As mentioned, perhaps the most familiar in the UK is working from home, or hybrid working – working both from the office and from home. However, there are also other possibilities, which include job sharing, part time working, compressed hours, flexitime, annualised hours, staggered hours and phased retirement. Being able to offer as many of these options as possible is likely to broaden the employee talent base for the employer. Flexible working increases diversity among potential candidates, since companies can attract and retain a wide pool of talented people. Also, this working model helps people manage work, personal, and family responsibilities and can also help hiring professionals focus on quality talent first. 

Looking at ways to facilitate these from an operational perspective is important, given the numbers of those that want to work flexibly.


The Link To Recruitment And Retention

It’s also important to highlight that flexible working gives businesses the benefits of being more agile and responsive to change. This ultimately means being more competitive in the hiring market. When showcasing how a company is shifting to a flexible working model, it should be noted in all recruitment advertising. 

Recruitment advertising can help companies attract, engage, and nurture candidates throughout the candidate journey – especially as companies work towards updating strategies to fit the new working environment. Candidate media behavior has changed due to the pandemic, so organisations should seek other ways to capture and keep the attention of top talent and current employees.

Also, there is a direct link between offering new working models and recruitment and retention. Advertising job roles and the possible work models available for these are likely to encourage top talent that may not have put themselves forward if they were not aware of such options. All relevant job descriptions should be updated to outline the possibilities for the role, so that candidates (and existing employees) can be clear. Additionally, a comprehensive focus on all of the company’s content that potential employees may engage with to clarify the flexible options available. That flexibility is an intrinsic part of the company culture that can be highlighted in the company’s profile, along with the development of case studies that showcase different types of working.

Taking a strategic approach to advertising is helpful, as is optimising resources based on data. Different types of work models need to be highlighted through company profiles on all different types of social media platforms, showcasing flexibility within the culture of the organisation. Looking at this in greater detail, there is a need to develop a consistent message that runs throughout the company profile, job descriptions, and all social media platforms so that flexible options are highlighted. This includes developing LinkedIn advertisements, Facebook ads, Google ads and any other type of social media or other places where the company advertises. Advertising initiatives must be relatable to different types of workers – for example, content might be tailored for positions that are available for hybrid working, or for flexitime, depending on what the options are. All advertising initiatives need to be relatable to every kind of worker, ensuring companies are targeting the audience they’re seeking and attracting quality candidates.

Also, it’s essential to meet the audience where they are. This means knowing where the top talent is or the sites/platforms quality candidates are frequenting or communicating on and targeting the talent there. This can include social media, emails, text messaging, podcasts, employer profiles, etc. 

Tip: Businesses should consider targeting new talent pools. With the rise of remote work, many people are now potential job candidates (since they could be passively viewing a company’s content). Talent acquisition professionals should consider looking into new media channels for potential candidates.


Employer Branding

The employer brand is all about the story companies tell to create connections between people and their businesses. With organisations focusing on remote workspaces and cultures, these connections are quite different, and employers need to accommodate to today’s market.

One of the challenges that can arise as a result of flexible working is ensuring that employees feel connected in an environment where they may not be working the same hours as everyone else or may not be in the office. In particular, when working remotely, some employees may feel isolated. Employees must feel connected (or that they will be connected to the team when working remotely or different hours) to be both recruited and retained. This human connection boosts their wellbeing. When offering new models of working, employers need to consider how they will go about it. Again, focusing on the company culture and ways in which these types of connections are built and maintained within new and different working models is a critical part of a recruitment and retention strategy. This ensures that the business showcases what it is doing effectively to attract the right people.

Tip: Use authentic employee-generated videos to showcase the company’s employer brand. These videos share to candidates what the work culture is for a company, what the core values are, and what being a part of the team is like.

Updating the employer branding strategy and the incentives to appeal to different groups/work models is critical. Employer branding needs to narrow-in on types of flexible working, ensuring a clear message is presented to both prospective and existing employees. This can be done by understanding the remote workplace culture and the mindset of those working remotely. 

Organisations should look into incentives and what is going to appeal to different types of flexible workers, or what distinguishes themselves as the best employer against the competition. Also, when companies work towards an inclusive work environment in a remote setting, they must focus on identifying how employees feel the most productive and most valued. A survey shared that 36.5% of the respondents say flexible working is beneficial because they’re productive at certain times of the day. Allowing this flexibility enables employees to work at their most optimal and comfortable levels throughout the day, increasing productivity in their work. Also, according to Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index, 84% of respondents say they are as productive or even more productive compared to a year ago when given flexible working options. With 9 in 10 employees consider flexible working to be a key motivator to their productivity at work, employers can see an increase in staff motivation and employee relations when implementing flexible working models. 

For example, having pizza parties and ping pong tables will not be incentives that have any relevance to a remote or hybrid worker. These may even make them feel more isolated. The employer brand must reflect an inclusive culture that works for all types of employees working under these different types of flexible working models. Look at what will appeal to different groups, and how those groups can be supported, to connect with all of the different types of workers.

Tip: With all the video conferencing tools available to companies now, there are many ways to bring coworkers together. 

The employee experience is an essential part of an employer brand, and creating bonds allows authentic collaboration and communication. Employer branding needs to be relevant to the new ways of working and connect with every individual, no matter the way they work.


Moving Forward

Flexible working is now a permanent feature of the workplace, and the need for this has been bolstered substantially by the pandemic. Employees want working models that provide them with work life balance. Flexible working is not just working from home, or hybrid working – there are a lot of possibilities available. Organisations should consider the full range of options for flexible working and what can feasibly be offered for different job roles. Demonstrating to potential recruits what is offered and how the company culture supports this is an integral part of employer branding and recruitment advertising,



If you’d like help highlighting how new work models fit in the organisation and how the working culture supports this, Recruitics can help!

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