More people apply for jobs advertised as flexible

Government study finds that advertising jobs as flexible provides big wins for employers and jobseekers.

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Advertising jobs as flexible increases applications by 30%

That’s the findings from a new government study.

That means employers could have a wider pool of talent to choose from if they embrace flexible working. The authors also speculate that advertising a job as flexible is seen as a mark of quality with potential employees.

Where men can work flexibly they are more likely to be involved with their families. That improves a range of outcomes including happiness, productivity, mental health and educational attainment among children.

A raft of research has found that men, particularly among the millennial cohort, expect to be able to work flexibly in some way. Many say they have changed jobs or are willing to do so to achieve a level of flexibility that suits them.

Big impacts

The Government Equalities Office partnered with the Behavioural Insights Team – sometimes known as ‘the nudge unit’ – to look at changing job adverts and applications. The nudge unit focus on making small changes to behaviour that can have big impacts.

For this work they changed the way companies posted job adverts so that they were prompted to define if the job was flexible or not. To make a sensible comparison some advertisers were not given the option to advertise flexibly unless they did so themselves. Over 40% of jobs were advertised as flexible when the prompt was included in the process, an increase of 7%. Employers were much more likely to consider flexitime and working from home as options when forced to think about it.

The flexible job ads attracted 30% more applicants than those that didn’t mention flexibility.

Normalise flexible working

The report authors wrote, “We think more jobseekers applied to flexible jobs because they prefer flexibility, appreciate employer openness on the availability of flexible working options and perhaps because they take these as a proxy for job and employer quality.”

The study aimed to help women in particular as they are more likely to have caring responsibilities. Therefore they are more likely to benefit from flexible working. Unfortunately the work did not gather gender data about the job applicants. However the interim report makes clear there are benefits for all. “Making flexible working more widely available also has the potential to normalise flexible working for both women and men.”

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