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Employers should offer flexible working from the outset to boost productivity, JRF says

Flexible working has transformed the nature of work for many organisations and employers, while boosting productivity in the process. Employees benefit too by being better able to balance their home and work responsibilities.

Nearly all businesses (around 96 per cent) now offer some form of flexible working to their existing employees - but how much more could they be gaining if they made it clear that flexible working is on offer when they advertise a post?

Only a fraction of organisations (6.2 per cent) mentioned flexible working options in job adverts for 'quality' jobs (those paying at least £10.63 an hour), according to research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

And yet there is a high demand for quality flexible work and a huge pool of potential talent seeking it.

The demand for flexibility

Some 1.9 million people have the skills to do jobs paying at this level, but need a flexible or part-time job and can't find one, and nearly half of the UK workforce wants flexibility in their next job, according to the Foundation's research.

There are 7.4 workless people chasing every quality flexible job, compared to one workless person for every quality full-time job, it said. And more than 200,000 people living in poverty have the skills to do better-paid work but are prevented from it because of lack of flexible jobs.

If employers introduced flexible working into their hiring process, it would be a win-win-win situation, the report claimed.

Employers would benefit from more talent and productivity; Government would enjoy reduced welfare costs; and employees would see higher living standards.

Acas publications and services

Extensive advice for employers on flexible working and homeworking is given in the pdf icon Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance [347kb] and pdf icon Homeworking - a guide for employers and employees [272kb].

Acas experts can visit your workplace and help you develop effective flexible-working policies; see Parents and carers: how Acas can help or call the customer services team on 0300 123 1150 for details.

Acas also runs practical training courses on Flexible working, Work/life balance, including developing family-friendly policies in the workplace, and Recruitment.

Acas' information on Building Productivity in the UK includes practical advice and features the insights of leading voices, as well as The Acas Productivity Tool, which helps employers identify where they can do more to get the best from their staff.

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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