How small businesses can attract BIG talent through offering flexible working

Intrigued? Let’s unpack flexible working arrangements.

My journey started in my 20’s with one of the largest recruitment firms in Australia. The expectation was to work long hours. Monday meetings started at 7.30am and we were expected to stay until 6pm, often longer with pressing deadlines. We were convinced it was our privilege to work for a company of this stead.

Fast forward 20 years and it’s not dissimilar in the “Big 4” or large Professional Services firms. HOWEVER, the game changer is the expectations of today. One study found that millennials expect to work longer than previous generations but they also expect to have flexibility. In another, almost 80% of people aged 28 – 35 desired the option to work remotely.

With a professional services background didn’t think I could access flexible working arrangements. With my first son born in Hong Kong, I experienced work (not life) but that was customary – you employed a nanny. Back in Australia and having my second son was where I first accessed flexible working. My employer asked me to work on a couple of assignments and I realised that my profession could be scaled back to a flexible arrangement to accommodate family.

Returning to Geelong I planned my business when my daughter was nine months old, launched it when she was one and slowly built the business flexing around family. Today, it’s intuitive to offer flexibility. I have been fortunate to gain qualified recruitment /HR managers, happy to take an admin role and providing so much more value than this because I offer flexibility. I have had high pedigree recruiters join who work anywhere from 3 day weeks to 9 day fortnights.

Many organisations are moving away from attendance to outcomes based measures for employee performance. If outcomes can be delivered outside the work place then this opens the opportunity for home based or remote working.

Where attendance is required to perform duties, employees can access flexibility through the ability to design their own rosters, shift swapping, flexible start / finish times and sharing roles.

Flexible working is increasingly recognised as a valuable way to attract and retain employees, clearly linked to:

  •  Improved organisational productivity

In 2017, New Zealand financial firm Perpetual Guardian trialled a 4 day working week on the condition that employees continued to meet their performance targets. They reported that employees were happier and productivity had increased by 20%. The 4 day week is now a permanent option.

  • An enhanced ability to attract and retain employees

The recent HarvestHR Index, showed just under one-third of employers surveyed are addressing new working arrangements – this is an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.

According to Zenefits’ study, 77% of employees consider flexible working arrangements a major consideration when evaluating future job opportunities.

  •  Improved employee wellbeing

 Employees can balance commitments such as caring for children, people with disabilities, the sick or elderly, or pursue hobbies, studying or keep fit.

  • More women in leadership

 A flexible offering can see women not only attain but thrive in leadership positions.

  • Future proofing

Semi-retired and portfolio careers for mature workers will increasingly become the norm.

Often flexible employees can feel ostracised if they are not part of the workplace culture.  Whilst this goes two ways, employers need to address how they can make this work. Consider:

  • changes to your communications processes. We use What’sApp, other companies use “slack” to communicate
  • Consider project boards such as Trello
  • don’t always do Friday drinks if not all staff work Fridays
  • have communication check-in when your staff member is back

No truer is the saying, out of sight out of mind. It is imperative that the flexible worker has a water tight communication strategy around their work.

Maree Herath, Director

The Harvest HR & People Solutions team are here to assist you introduce flexible arrangements into your workplace.

Maree Herath

Director - Harvest Talent Recruitment & People Solutions

With over twenty five years working in recruitment, Maree has significant global experience recruiting for some of APACs leading brands across Melbourne, Perth and Hong Kong.

Returning to her hometown of Geelong in 2009, Maree established Harvest to bring best-practice talent acquisition and Executive search to the Geelong and South West Victoria regions.

Today, Harvest is a well-known player in the Geelong talent recruitment, Executive search and human resources field with strong experience in placing some of the region’s most difficult to fill roles.

Maree’s focus is on strategic account management and business development, but has a particular soft spot for recruiting across:

Executive search;
Oil & gas and petrochemicals;
Manufacturing and logistics;
Resources and energy; and
Life sciences.

Harvest Talent Recruitment & People Solutions

Leave a Reply

Notify of