Flexible working offers myriad benefits to companies and their staff, says Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment’s Laura Davies. TTG discovers why
While some frontline agents might have the freedom to work flexible hours, employees working at a senior level within travel companies are often more restricted. Yet employers who don’t offer flexibility are likely to be missing out on the best candidates for the job, believes Laura Davies, senior consultant for flexible resources at Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment.
“It could be that the best candidate lives one hour away from the office,” says Davies. “Companies shouldn’t be discounting the ideal candidate because they can’t be flexible. I think there’s still more that could be done in travel in comparison with other industries.”
Many candidates are now placing a “significant value” on having a healthier work-life balance, and flexible working forms a part of that outlook, explains Davies, who adds that today’s candidates are increasingly likely to request flexible working from employees.
“We’ve definitely seen a shift in priorities for candidates. Whereas previously it was driven around salary and package, today, while salary is still a priority, the next key consideration is flexibility across all skill sets and roles.”
Davies adds that flexible working is particularly important to candidates looking to apply for senior roles. “We see this every day when talking to highly skilled potential candidates in the travel industry, where a flexible approach is a highly sought-after and key consideration in the next career move.”
Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment recently conducted a survey, which found that 70% of companies questioned had some form of flexible policy in place.
“That sounds positive, but flexible working comes in different forms – not all of that flexibility will be rolled out on a formal basis, it might just be down to the attitudes of the immediate line manager instead,” explains Davies.
The survey also showed 32% of firms would consider flexible options for candidates, but only for specific roles.
It’s important for companies to start thinking differently about flexible working, says Davies. “It isn’t simply for mums with kids looking to work part-time any more. There’s a demand across all genders, ages and skill sets for those simply looking to work differently and to deliver the best for
their role in a way that is most effective.”
Flexible working isn’t restricted to working from home, either – it could also mean flexible location or hours, condensed hours or interim work.
“People do interim work for many different reasons. They might want to take time out to do something different, for example. It’s a good opportunity for a business to fill a gap or deliver a particular project.”
The benefits of flexible working for employees are manifold. “It leaves the employee feeling motivated. If they’ve got a better work-life balance, they’re likely to bring positivity into the business,” explains Davies.
The benefits for employers are perhaps less well publicised, she adds. “Companies are able to attract a higher calibre of candidate because of the ability to offer flexibility, and working with employees in a way that works best for them also ensures output is at its best.”
For managers who might have concerns about hiring someone on a flexible basis regarding productivity, Davies says: “Most organisations have in place a robust performance management scheme, alongside clear objectives for employees. As long as performance is measured, there should be no problems with regards to flexible working.”
For companies looking to promote flexible working, Davies recommends putting a policy in place that’s endorsed from the top downwards.
“Creating a policy is down to each company and should be incorporated as part of their wellbeing programme. It’s important to ask individuals what they want and what works for them when creating the policy, and for the company to be flexible in the flexible working approach.”