I'll be honest, this isn't usually my domain having had a raft of bad experiences with recruitment agents in my younger years. However, recently I had the pleasure of having a chat with Kristal from Flexology about my journey into freelance work.
Following redundancy, I was on the hunt for part-time work to fit in the new addition to our family, but unsurprisingly there was 1 part-time role for every 50 full-time positions. And a figure less than that at a level I was capable of. Before I had my son I was in a full time, 9:00-5:30 corporate position where despite a decent pay packet alongside admirable benefits, I was under worked.
I felt guilty about it!
Guilty that I wasn’t being as efficient as I know I can be.
Guilty about wasting my employer’s money.
Guilty that towards the end of some days, I could be sitting at my desk trying to find work to do until it was home time.
And that is not fair, as that is not a problem of my making.
But it’s not all bad
The excess time I had allowed me to go out and find work to do. I offered to help colleagues and I learnt lots of things about the business. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so if I wasn’t of the mindset to put myself out there with the additional time I had.
Now, I like to think that my previous employers’ hired well, but what all of them lacked was an open-minded approach to flexible working.
According to Gov.uk the definition of ‘flexible working’ is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, e.g. having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. However I would argue that in practice, employers need be thinking beyond that.
All job adverts start with a description of whether the post is full or part-time and/or how many hours a week a job will take, the start time and end time and location etc. But when I was hired for my previous role what was a full-time job for my predecessor, was a part-time job for me. No one won in that situation, I was left under fulfilled and the company wasted money. Although they were flexible in their approach to home working, they were blinkered in their idea that the position would only ever be a full-time role, no matter who filled it.
And I imagine that is something that you do when you are thinking about recruitment. I would take a guess that one of the first questions that you ask yourself is whether a role is full or part-time. Taking a step back and listing the credentials of a job, measurable outcomes, clear objectives BEFORE you even hire, will help you to find the right person. Then you can pay them for the work they do and what they are worth. Not how long they are at the company office.
There is no way that it would work for my business
I feel like this is the sort of article that could receive a bit of kickback, so I have made a list of what I would perceive to be the cons, then I have attempted to de-bunk them!
Con: I wouldn’t know that I could trust that an employee is actually working if they weren’t at the office.
Solution: If you don’t trust them, why hire them? Any employee should have measurable outcomes and regular feedback reviews to ensure that they are delivering on business goals.
Con: We have a daily/weekly project team meeting that everyone has to attend to make sure we are all on track with client projects.
Solution: Have you tried any digital software? It doesn’t have to cost much – Skype comes as part of the package with Office 365 – or Zoom video calling is free. Also, a meeting audit is a good way to assess whether all meetings are essential.
Con: Once I put flexible working in place for one employee, I would have to do it for everyone.
Solution: You can measure each request separately and objectively for your current staff, if they ask for it. You just need to work out whether each specific role can be achieved on a more flexible basis.
Con: I am worried about team cohesiveness with everyone working all over the place all of the time.
Solution: You can set the parameters of how it will work for your business around your employees. If you are just starting out with flexible working and it is important for you all to be in one day a week, that can be a stipulation for you.
Con: All of our roles are client facing so there is no way we could accommodate any changes to the way we work.
Solution: It’s all about thinking outside the box. If staff could take it turns to be in the office on a rotation there could be a degree of flexibility. Could staff meet clients out and about from the office? Could staff have virtual meetings? Could client meeting schedules be planned around staff working hours?
What has this got to do with me?
If you are looking to save time and money on your recruitment (and let’s face it, who isn’t trying to shave money off their business one way or another) then consider a really flexible approach to how you hire.
"The gap between the proportion of people who want to work flexibly (87%) and the availability of flexible opportunities at the point of hire (11% for quality roles above £20k FTE) is causing a talent bottleneck. Employers are cutting themselves off from a proportion of the candidate market, by not stating their openness to flexibility in their recruitment advertising. These ‘lost’ candidates include some of the very best available talent, and the problem is at its worst at higher salary levels." This is taken from the Timewise flexible job index 2018.
So there are lots of different ways to overcome this, for example:
Short term contracts
Employee work based on hours rather than days
Working from home (widen your potential employee base nationwide)
Variable working patterns in the day
If you want a more comprehensive review, this blog is a fantastic resource.
And the logistics of how all of this works and how you can broaden your recruitment criteria next time you hire? Just talk to Flexology.
Or perhaps you don't need to hire at all, if you've just got some short-term ad-hoc jobs to fill let's have a chat about how working with a freelancer might be the way forward for you.