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It’s a sad state of affairs that in the twenty-first century, we’re seeing quotes like this. But we’re not surprised. Flexible roles still seem to be the golden goose for many professional working parents.

Our Flexible Working Survey 2017 found that attitudes to flexible working have improved in the last ten years since our part-time and flexible recruitment agency started. But clearly, more needs to be done.

• 96% of employees of the 1,150 people who completed the survey were women.

• 85% of these said meeting family commitments was the number one factor for choosing flexible working.

• 63% of those asked were primary carers of children.

The four key areas for flexible employees are:

1. Meeting family commitments.

2. Using skills and expertise.

3. A convenient location.

4. Rewarding and stimulating work.

If a job isn’t local, it doesn’t always allow the employee to meet their family commitments easily. With local nurseries and after school clubs finishing around 6pm, a long commute is often out of the question.

But ultimately, if children weren’t in the equation, these working parents would have much more choice in terms of roles. So why should they be penalised? If more employers embrace flexible working as a ‘norm’, not a benefit, and seek to advertise permanent positions with a flexible option, they can benefit from great rewards, such as better employee retention, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

If men do it, it’ll be taken seriously

Is flexible working a female issue? Our Flexible Working Survey 2017 would suggest so. But the controversial viewpoint prevails that this is one of the reasons why it isn’t taken seriously enough by the world of business.

When asked what would improve the adoption of flexible working, some said men were key to change. One respondent stated, “More men need to take up part-time working. At the moment, flexible working is seen as very much a female need and therefore not taken as seriously.”

We approached employees and businesses alike to get their views for our Flexible Working Survey 2017. But 96% of employees of the 1,150 people who completed the survey were women. After all, it’s still largely women who want to work flexibly to meet the demands of work and family life, and therefore women make up the majority of our community.

While more men are choosing to work flexibly and more are becoming stay-at-home dads, one working parent usually has to progress their career in order to bring home a good salary.

It’s our view that until we see more professional roles being opened up to part-time and flexible workers, we will have to wait until we see a better gender balance and a narrowing of the gender pay gap. So, flexible working needs to be taken seriously by employers regardless of gender.

The benefits for businesses should be gender neutral: greater employee retention, access to a wider talent pool, reduced absenteeism and improved productivity all equally great reasons for choosing to open up vacancies to flexible workers. 

If you would like to read the full results of our survey, please visit our website at www.ten2two.org, or if you want to chat about flexible working, or anything else, please give me a call.

Andrea Starbuck 01732 759849.

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