Flexible working is for men too!

We regularly come across the assumption that offering flexible working, in terms of hours or location, is solely to attract and retain women and allow them to balance childcare.

However, this view is growing very outdated. In fact, across our network of people looking to work flexibly over 20% are men.

20 March 2018

This is not surprising given when you review several key dynamics:

1. Men are getting more involved in childcare, in fact the 2017 Modern Families Index found that fathers will make career sacrifices in order to balance family life, with 69 per cent of fathers saying they would consider their childcare arrangements before they took a new job or promotion and 38 per cent saying they would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance, reflecting the difficulty they face in reconciling work and home life.

We have placed a number of men in this position into flexible roles with our clients, and none with a pay cut we would add! Generally, they are looking for a full time role with a home/office split or the flexibility to do a couple of late starts or early finishes to share school run and morning/afternoon childcare responsibilities. Also, full time compressed into 4 days or a straight 4 days week (80% FTE) are also very popular. These are easy to accommodate, and we are baffled as to why more employers aren’t offering this.

2. Retirement age is getting later, as people have a higher life expectancy and older people find themselves with an inadequate pension and costs of supporting their family. Statistics released by the Department of Work and Pensions show that more than 1 in 10 men are now working beyond the age of 70 and 8% of women are also working beyond this threshold.

We need this trend to continue because between 2012 and 2022 it is estimated that 12.5 million jobs will be opened up by people leaving the workforce, yet only 7 million younger people will start working to fill them. There will be a huge skills gap.

This is something the government has recognised, appointing Andy Briggs (Chief Executive of Aviva UK and Ireland Life) as their Government Business Champion for Older Workers. He notes that “Very often someone in their fifties or sixties has carer responsibilities. As a result, they need to be more flexible in their working hours, maybe work from home a bit more, maybe not work full-time,” Flexibility is clearly going to be very important in accessing this key talent group.

3. Millennials of both sexes want a better work life balance and are widely reported and surveyed to rank work life balance and flexibility as key to them when assessing an employment opportunity. They want free time to further their skills outside work, pursue hobbies and see their friends and family, amongst other things. In order to attract them businesses are going to have to evolve to be more flexible.

 

We already see some industries embracing flexible working far more than others – in some cases they have been forced to evolve to cover skills gaps and in some cases they have better access to technology that allows it. However, what is certain is that if businesses do not adapt a business-wide framework that covers all employees, male and female, then they will lose out as competitors attract and retain more diverse, skilled and loyal teams.