Men more likely to apply if jobs advertised as flexible

Study by Zurich insurance along with government backed boffins finds more men apply for jobs if they are advertised with flexible working options

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Companies that advertise jobs as flexible by default attract a bigger pool of applicants. And more men apply for positions advertised with the option to work differently.

Last year Zurich insurance added six words to all job adverts. They were ‘full time/part time/job share’. And they made a huge difference. The move formed part of a field experiment has formed the basis of research carried out along with the government backed Behavioural Insights Team.

The results are clear. And they point to men and women both valuing the option to work differently. Across the board, the adverts attracted more than double the number of applications across males and females for every role. The researchers suggest this could indicate that flexible working options are just as important to men as they are to women in today’s society.

The experiment particularly benefited women. 16% more women applied to work at Zurich. The number of female applicants for management roles jumped 20%. This confirmed research that suggested it was the lack of flexibility that was putting women off applying for senior positions.

However the change to flexible by default attracted more male applicants. And those that already work remotely or part time were more likely to report a ‘sense of belonging’ at Zurich due to the new policy.

Diversity and inclusion

Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR, said: “Flexible working can help tackle diversity and inclusion issues we’ve all been battling with for many years.

“Embracing part-time and flexible work is not a silver bullet. But we’ve seen hugely encouraging results, simply by adding six words to our job adverts.

“By offering roles that fit flexibly around family life, employers could open the floodgates to a much wider pool of untapped talent. This will also help women progress into higher paid jobs whilst fitting other commitments around their careers. Workers want a new deal and there’s a danger that businesses that don’t get on board, won’t be able to compete for the best and brightest minds.”

The government has pledged to ensure policy making takes into account the lessons learnt during the pandemic, including the benefits of flexible working.

Minister for Women, Baroness Berridge, said: “The benefits of flexible working have really been emphasised during recent months. We want to see more employers embracing practices such as working from home and returners programmes, which can have a positive impact for both men and women.

“Zurich’s work in this space has proven how effective a simple change to a job advert can be for workplace equality. It is vital that more employers take this on board as we seek to increase opportunities for everyone in this country.”

Case study

One man to take advantage of the new flexible working at Zurich was Patrick. He went through a divorce and wanted to carve out more time to spend with his kids. By going part time he was able to do that. And it also freed him up to spend some of his week helping his current partner to grow her business as a chiropractor. He now has the flexibility to oversee the team at the business and spend time with his family as well as maintain his career at Zurich.

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