Research by flexible working consultancy Timewise has found that job seekers looking for flexibility at work were sceptical of adverts with generic promises of a flexible working culture.

Indeed, they were not just suspicious that employers were paying lip service to flexible working but were also concerned that they would discriminate against them if they requested a particular work pattern.

As a result, candidates who were unclear about what the messaging meant – in particular, if they thought it did not include part-time or home-working - would not bother applying.

A third of respondents looked to see if flexibility was mentioned in the job title or first few sentences of the job advert; if not, they were likely to simply skip past the advert.
Likewise, if a suitable job advert did not refer to flexible working options at all, the research suggests that two in five job seekers (40 per cent) would not apply.

The reason is that, for many job seekers, flexible working is a necessity or a life-changing preference, not something that is “nice to have”. Their strength of feeling about where, when or how much they want to work directly influenced which job opportunities they would consider, how they searched and if they would apply.

Almost half (45 per cent) of respondents rated flexible or part-time working as their top criteria when applying for jobs, ahead of location, salary and even whether the job was a good fit for their experiences and skills. More than half the respondents in the research (57 per cent) rated having flexibility over what times they worked as “very important” or “essential”.

Part-time was by far the most preferred type of flexible working arrangement amongst respondents: 80 per cent wanted to work four days a week or less. This is a much greater proportion than the 23 per cent of employees who actually work part-time currently.

When asked how important it would be to work from home after lockdown, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of respondents said home-working was “very important” or “vital” to them, with just four per cent of people saying they preferred to work in the office all the time.

To read the report in full, click here.