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Flexible Working Hours? Yes or No?

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by Kirsten Garrett

4 months ago

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I look around people2people’s Sydney CBD office and see a group of mature professionals who meet their activity and revenue targets. These metrics are the key to success in our industry. Another measure of success is longevity and I think my 22 years in the industry counts towards it! As with most busy people, being able to balance your work commitments with any home or additional commitments you have, takes considerable effort and refinement.

Many of the people2people team arrive early (anytime from 6.30am) each day and others are in the office later in the evening. people2people’s core business hours are 8.30am to 5.30pm and all staff are contactable by email or mobile phone outside of these hours. Whilst there is a common respect for the core business hours, there is flexibility for staff with family, sporting, study and other vocational commitments. The benefit to the business is that the people2people employees are engaged, reducing the ‘feeling’ of ‘all work and no play’. If, like people2people, your business does have offices in other parts of Australia, you have people whose working hours overlap with those in other time zones, for eg New Zealand or Perth. At present, people2people has recruitment consultants in five different time zones around ANZSEA, where the time difference from Sydney is anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours.

In the people2people 2017 market report, the six most common benefits offered by employers did NOT include flexible working hours. Ah you might say, so it is not as common as you think! Quite the opposite, flexible hours are no longer seen as a benefit, they are the norm, much like company provided mobile phones and laptops. These too are no longer considered benefits, they are tools of trade.

It was therefore very surprising and definitely a trip back in time when a hiring manager recently interviewed a great candidate, who by their own admission would be a very close match to both the role and business, but who chose not to pursue the opportunity, because they needed 30 minutes flexibility each side of the set start time on alternate weeks. Putting this simply, the core hours are 9am – 5pm. One week this candidate needs to start at 8.30am and finish at 5.00pm and the other week they needs to start at 9.30am and finish at 5.30pm. As you can see, no change to finish time but a slight variation in start time which over a two week cycle means this candidate would work the same hours as anyone else in the team.

As a hiring manager, you might think it would be impossible to have everyone in the team choosing their hours, coming and going as they please. I get this! But surely in a candidate short market when you are recruiting into a small team, you would be able to set a routine which allows a small degree of flexibility.

On the back of this, two things come to mind. Are employers losing the best candidates because they are being short sighted around flexible working hours and are they getting the most productivity out of their current employees, if they are struggling to balance work and personal commitments?

So what is your view on offering flexible working hours?

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