How to attract and hire a flexible workforce

8th March, 2016

Working Mothers Connect CEO Natasha Gallardo shares her top four tips for helping your business take advantage of a committed and talented flexible workforce.

The many benefits of having a flexible workforce have been pretty well documented in recent years. The results from a famous study reported in Harvard Business Review show that not only are employees that work flexibly more productive, but they are on average 13.5 percent more productive – meaning that organisations gain almost an entire extra work day out of their staff by simply letting them work from home.

READ: Is your business ready to go virtual?

In many cases, flexible workers have been shown to be even more committed, engaged, and productive than full-time employees, and they can also save businesses a considerable amount of money in facilities and overhead costs.

Owing to the time they spend away from the office, flexible workers are also less likely to engage in unproductive meetings and be distracted by their colleagues, making them even more productive still. More than ever before, businesses have a clear reason to attract and hire a flexible workforce.

But although the benefits of flexible working are clear, sometimes figuring out how to achieve it in your business causes a roadblock. Here are my top four tips to smooth out the bumps and flexibly work your way to success.

1. Have appropriate structures and systems in place

If your business has previously been staffed by mainly full-time, in-office employees, some changes may be required to the systems and structures that exist to ensure that a flexible workforce will be fully supported.

For example, if you currently require staff to physically clock in and clock out, you may require a different method of time-keeping, or you may need to set up a different payroll system to be able to pay staff on a per-project, as opposed to a per-hour, basis.

Your business also may have headcount restrictions, which can make job-sharing more difficult. Before attempting to attract a flexible workforce, it is important to consider what internal systems, and structures may be required to support them and to set these up accordingly.

2. Ensure managers and current employees are on board

Staff that work flexibly want to know that their employer’s leadership team, as well as their direct manager and other employees within the business, support their working arrangements.

This is particularly important for flexible workers, as research shows that leadership support and organisational culture are key to ensuring that flexible workers do not feel guilty, unfairly judged, and that their careers may be jeopardised.

Businesses need to make sure that their staff, and especially their managers, are fully supportive of flexible working.

READ: Did you know that flexibility is a great way to boost employee engagement?

3. Make flexible working the rule, rather than the exception

Unfortunately, for some businesses flexibility is still the exception, rather than the rule, which can create the perception that flexibility is only for certain groups of people, for example, working mothers.

For businesses to truly attract a flexible workforce, they need to make sure that they start proactively offering flexible work to all staff. In doing so they will effectively remove the stigma that flexible working arrangements are only for certain employees. After all – the benefits of flexible work don’t just apply to mothers!

4. Advertise specifically to those looking for flexibility

If your business has implemented structures and systems to support flexible work, your managers have embraced the idea, and your business is able to offer flexibility to all staff where possible, you will be in a great position to attract a flexible workforce.

When you advertise for new staff, position yourself as an employer of choice from a flexibility perspective by making your business’s values clear.

It is important to make sure potential new staff are aware that your business values, supports and promotes flexibility.

Bring onboarding, rostering, timesheets and payroll together in one seamless solution with MYOB Advanced Workforce Management