What does flexible working mean to your organisation? -
Polly Symondson Recruitment, PSR, Specialist Regional Recruitment for the Charity Sector, Cheltenham, UK
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What does flexible working mean to your organisation?

When working with clients looking to recruit fundraising staff we always ask ‘what does flexible working look like in your organisation?’

Answers range from occasional home working to totally remote and sometimes very complicated % of working hours calculations. The recent headlines surrounding the Flexible working bill which received royal assent on 20 July this year has not helped.

Many of those we speak to, both candidates and charities, believe there is now the right request flexible working from day one of employment. This is not true, there are significant changes made in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 expected to come into force in summer 2024. However, secondary legislation is needed to bring in the right from day one so the need to have 26 continuous weeks in employment before making a request remains for the time being.

The pros and cons of flexible working have been hotly debated with advocates and detractors on both sides. However, as a recruiter can I ask you to consider the following before going to market?

What does flexible working look like to your organisation? The majority of our clients fully embrace flexible working but each of them has a different idea of what it means to them. This is not a problem unless the same view is not shared across the organisation. Our discussions with clients sometimes uncover differing internal points of view. So ensure that you have a definitive answer and the logic behind that decision before coming to market.

Does flexible working work for all your staff? Purely anecdotally there seems to be an experience divide between those who really enjoy working from home and those who would like more office time. For those at the start of their careers, particularly those who spent University or school years at home during Covid there is a greater desire to be more office based, learn from colleagues and understand how the organisation works. Starting a new role is stressful, made more so if there has been little thought into remote inductions and systems training. Do not assume everyone wants to be home based all the time and ensure that there is scheduled contact time between staff. Poor managers disappear behind email, great managers make a real effort to listen to concerns and build effective teams using a variety of resources. Also, where charities have service delivery staff who cannot be home based is there a detrimental divide opening up within the organisation?

For most of us the move to hybrid working is here to stay. However, some internal reflection and conversations before you go out to recruit will make you confident about what you are offering candidates and they will have all the facts needed to make decisions in a competitive jobs market.

Elizabeth Palfreman, Recruitment Partner