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Prompting employers to state flexible working options leads to 20 per cent boost in ads offering flexibility, analysis finds

5 Mar 2021 By Lauren Brown

Study reveals reminding businesses to clearly publicise availability of different working patterns could attract 30 per cent more applicants

Thousands more jobs roles could be listed as being flexible if employers were more transparent about the availability of flexible working, a study has found, which could in turn boost the number of applicants.

Analysis of 780,000 job adverts, posted by 100,000 employers on website Indeed, found that that prompting employers to clearly advertise flexible working options led to a 20 per cent increase in the number of jobs advertised as such.

Conducted alongside social purpose organisation the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the analysis suggested these prompts could see an additional 174,000 jobs a year being advertised as flexible on Indeed alone. It added that while this would impact both men and women, the benefits of more flexible roles “would be felt more strongly by women”.



The research, which also analysed 20 million job applications, found jobs with clear flexible working options could attract up to 30 per cent more applicants than those that did not.

Indeed has said it is now implementing these prompts for employers across its platform.

Baroness Berridge, minister for women, said the study proved the benefit to employers of explicitly advertising flexibility. She added: “Everyone can benefit from flexible working, but the research shows that for women it can be especially important. Flexible working can be a vital tool at the disposal of employers, helping to achieve workplace equality.”

Prior research by BIT for insurance firm Zurich found women were more likely to apply for senior level roles if the job advert offered flexible hours and used gender-neutral language after it began advertising all its vacancies with part time, full time, job share or flexible working options in 2019.


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The firm saw a 16 per cent increase in the number of female applicants as a direct result of the initiative. 

At the time, Katy Fridman, founder of Flexible Working People, said putting flexible working options on a job ad should be a baseline requirement and one which would “undoubtedly drive more interest and applications", a theory borne out by Indeed’s new findings.

The CIPD’s Flex From 1st campaign is encouraging employers to support flexible working for all and the right to request flexible working from day-one of employment as well as calling for a change to UK law to make flexible working requests a day-one right for all employees. 

Under current UK law, employees can only request to work flexibly after 26 weeks of employment, with a limit of one request per 12 months. According to CIPD research nearly half (46 per cent) of employees do not have flexible working arrangements and that fewer than a third of employers (30 per cent) were planning to try to increase their uptake of forms of flexible working beyond home working over the next six to 12 months.

This is despite almost a fifth (18 per cent) of working parents wanting to work completely remotely after the pandemic and two-fifths (42 per cent) of women saying they needed to be able to work flexibly due to childcare commitments, according to the Modern Families Index Spotlight survey.

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