Companies need to start listening to their employees and thinking about the future of flexible working, according to employer panel.
Companies need to move with the times and not be afraid to challenge the norm when it comes to flexible working, or risk missing out, according to a panel of top employers.
A panel about best practice in recruitment hosted by Working Families brought together representatives from car seller Arnold Clark, the NHS and EY to discuss how flexible working might look in the future and how best to manage it.
Ellie Nicholls, EY’s Diversity and Inclusion Leader UKFS, was keen to stress that this discussion very much includes working dads.
“It isn’t a gendered conversation,” she said. “We’re hearing [about] many more fathers who want to be more active with their kids and be able to do all the things flexible working enables. And so the tide is starting to change and I think that’s a change for good. We want to keep that momentum up.”
Louise Pheasey, Senior Employee Engagement Advisor at Arnold Clark, argued the ball was very much in employers’ courts, urging them not to be afraid of challenging the norm if they wanted to recruit and retain the best talent.
“Be constantly looking at what the next evolution is going to be,” she said. “Listen to your employees. Most of the changes have come about through sitting down and discussing with our employees, hearing what their needs are, talking to managers as well about potential issues.”
It can’t end there, however. “If you do listen to that,” she added, “then feed back and show that you’ve listened to that.”
“Unless we change, then we’re not going to get the best talent,” agreed Nicholls. She suggested talking frankly about flexibility early on in the recruitment process, alongside questions about salary.
“Make it obvious, make it front and centre of the conversation,” she said.
Nevertheless, she admitted employers are still figuring out how to handle this sea change.
“Equity and equitable access to working the way you want to work is going to be become more and more [of a] hot topic and I don’t think organisations have necessarily got a roadmap through it,” she said. “I think we’re all finding our way.”