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Organisations awarded for flexible working innovations

Professional services giant Deloitte recently won the Working Families' DTCC Best for Innovation award 2015 for an initiative called Time Out.

The scheme allows all staff an additional four-week block of (unpaid) leave. "It helps our people to achieve a better balance between their career and other commitments such as family," says Deloitte. Working Families said the scheme showed how "sometimes a simple and straightforward approach can be incredibly successful in attracting and retaining the best people and giving a competitive advantage."

Time Out is available each year to any employee with over a year's service. Although it is unpaid, benefits continue over the period. Staff do not have to give a reason for their application, but the timing must be mutually acceptable.

Meanwhile three public sector organisations - Cafcass, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Justice - also won awards for innovation in HR and flexible working.

  • Cafcass invested in the tools needed to allow staff to structure their time around work, family and personal commitments, and tied the change to its purpose as an organisation, demonstrating how increased flexibility helped it deliver better support to vulnerable children.
  • The Ministry of Justice's commuter hubs give staff an option of a work location halfway between commuting and working from home.
  • The Foreign & Commonwealth Office's Project Task Force allows employees to work flexibly across a variety of projects.

"We are seeing different strands in tackling the work/life balanceconundrum," said Working Families' CEO Sarah Jackson. "They include giving people autonomy, using technology better to support work/life balance, and making smarter use of your organisation's premises and infrastructure."

Acas has launched two new guides on recruiting and inducting staff, providing a series of clear steps employers should follow in order to attract and choose the right people, and then keep them

Unsuitable application

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens' Advice, said: "Vague job ads risk wasting people's time and business's money.  People seeking employment face a real challenge if job adverts don't even tell them if they'll earn enough to keep a roof over their head. Applying for jobs where hours and pay are unclear consumes valuable hours of job hunting time.

"Employers can also have their time wasted as they may then receive high numbers of unsuitable applications. This can be an inefficient recruitment process, meaning they're less likely to get the best person for the job.

"Requiring recruiters posting job adverts to include a minimum standard of information would help people decide whether to apply for a role. Employers would also benefit from a better matched pool of applicants."

Acas guidance

The new Acas pdf icon Recruiting staff guide [360kb] gives clear advice for employers when advertising vacancies:

  • Does the advertisement convey the organisation's image and appear eye-catching?
  • Is it easily understood and to the point?
  • Make sure it includes the job title and main aspects of the role including pay, location and type of contract (for example, is it permanent or fixed term?). Where space permits, cover qualities, skills and knowledge essential for the post and career prospects.
  • State how applicants should apply, and give a contact name, phone number and/or email address if an applicant would like additional information or has queries.
  • Give a clear closing date for applications.
  • Make sure current employees and external applicants are given the same information.
  • Check it steers clear of any wording the employer is unsure about or thinks might be open to legal challenge. Apart from in very limited and lawful exemptions and exceptions, the advertisement must not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex (gender) and sexual orientation.

Acas publications and services

The Acas page on Hiring staff provides a range of useful sample documents including job descriptions, person specification and job application forms, which are free to download. It also contains links to a wealth of guidance on Recruitment and induction, Flexible working, age and the workplace etc.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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