'Out of kilter with workplaces': Scots job ads failing to offer enough flexible working, survey finds

Recruitment is "completely out of kilter” with workplaces, with fewer than three in ten jobs in Scotland advertised as flexible despite dramatic changes to working patterns on the back of the pandemic, according to new research.

Timewise has today unveiled its Scottish Flexible Jobs Index, which analysed more than 340,000 job adverts and found that just 27 per cent mentioned flexible working options, such as working from home, part-time or other adaptable hours.

However, the social business and flexible-working firm also noted that two thirds of Scottish employees already work flexibly, while 70 per cent say they want more “flex” than they have now, and many are willing to change jobs to obtain this.

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The portion of jobs advertised with flexible working options in Scotland is up 2 percentage points on the year before, when 25 per cent were signposted as having this advantage, the study also noted.

'We’ve all seen how greater flexibility can benefit people as well as the businesses they work for,' says flexible working consultancy Timewise. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Pre-pandemic, 19 per cent of jobs were advertised as flexible, added Timewise, which collected its first data in 2017, when 16 per cent of Scottish jobs were signposted as such.

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Emma Stewart, co-founder of Timewise, said: “We’ve experienced the biggest shake-up to working patterns in living history. This is no flash-in-the-pan affair; we’ve been working differently for almost two years. We’ve all seen how greater flexibility can benefit people as well as the businesses they work for. Yet recruitment remains completely out of kilter with what’s happening in workplaces. For anyone who wants or needs flexibility, most jobs are still off limits.

“It’s time employers accept the world of work has changed. Many industries are struggling with staff shortages, candidate expectations about flex are at an all-time high, and that’s before we get to mounting pressure from the Scottish and UK governments to make flexible working available from ‘day one’.”

Timewise also said the pandemic prompted the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) to update flexible working options for employees and it now mentions this kind of working during recruitment.

Graeme Littlejohn, SWA director of strategy, said: “We have employees who live up to 200 miles from their office hub, but that doesn’t impact their effectiveness for the organisation. In fact, we’ve found that offering more flexibility means people can have a better work-life balance, and this leads to higher productivity and job satisfaction.”

Progress

Timewise also said the UK Government is currently consulting on whether employees should be able to request flexible working “from day one”, while the Scottish Government now requires public sector employers, and those bidding for public sector contracts, to offer flexible and family-friendly ways of working to employees from their first day.

Other findings from the Timewise study include “softer” forms of flex, such as home-working, being concentrated in higher salary bands, with 13 per cent of jobs with salaries of more than £60,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) offering home working, compared with 3 per cent of jobs with salaries under £20,000 FTE.

Timewise added that the groups who need flex most are those with caring commitments, older workers, and those with health conditions.

Ms Stewart stressed that offering flexible working will be “well worth the effort” – with advantages including being able to attract key talent from a much wider pool, reduce both the gender pay gap and sickness absence, and improve productivity.

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