‘Flexible working boosts recruitment, but retention is more challenging’

A new survey by CIPHR shows that, while offering flexible working reduces recruitment challenges, it doesn’t have the same impact on retention in a fast-moving jobs market.



Flexible working can help boost recruitment drives, but it may not necessarily make a big difference when it comes to retention, according to new research.

HR software provider CIPHR conducted a survey of over 330 British employers last month to discover how the increasingly competitive talent market has affected their staff retention and recruitment drives over the past twelve months. The results show nearly three-quarters (73%) of employers have experienced an increase in employees voluntarily resigning and 71% have found it more challenging to recruit new employees.

Organisations with between 251 and 5,000 employees appear to be struggling the most in terms of recruitment and retention, with 83% reporting an increase in employee resignations and 77% finding it more challenging to recruit. In comparison, only half of smaller employers (those with between 26 and 50 employees) say the same, with 55% experiencing an increase in voluntary resignations and 51% stating that recruitment is more of a challenge.

When it comes to recruitment, only 51% of employers who have staff working from home 60% to 100% of the working week say they have found it more challenging than usual to recruit over the past year. In comparison, that figure rises to 71% for employers whose staff are expected to attend their office or work premises 60% to 100% of the working week (that’s at least three days or more for full-time workers).

Employers with staff working 100% remotely are also three times more likely to report having found it easier than usual to hire new employees over the past year, when compared to employers with staff working 100% onsite at their workplace (27% compared to 8%).

When it comes to retention, however, over four-fifths (82%) of employers with employees who always work from home say they’ve seen an increase in resignations, compared to 70% of those with some form of hybrid workforce (their staff work remotely 20% to 80% of the time) and just 54% of employers with employees who never work from home. The latter – employers whose employees never work from home – are those most likely to report a reduction in the proportion of employees voluntarily resigning over the past year (15% of employers, compared to a 9% average across all employers).

Moreover, employers who offer various flexible working arrangements – such as flexible working hours, flexible working location, or a four-day work week – are still significantly impacted by increased employee resignations and recruitment challenges. For example, 71% of employers who offer flexible working hours say it is more challenging to recruit and 70% say resignations have risen. For employers who offer a four-day working week, that number is 73% and 70% respectively.

As part of the survey, 250 employers were asked whether they agreed that ‘employees and job seekers are in the driving seat when it comes to negotiating salaries, benefits and flexible working’. Two-thirds (66%) of those polled said they are, with numbers varying according to industry..

Claire Williams, chief people officer at CIPHR, says: “Most people don’t resign from an organisation for just one reason. They can leave due to many reasons, such as career and development opportunities, management behaviour, salaries and reward, stress, and work-life balance – every individual has their own list. Similarly, most job hunters don’t pick their future employer for one reason alone and with the buoyancy of the current job market, they are in a prime position to be more selective in, not just the role they want, but the sort of organisations they want to work for.

“Employers need to ensure they focus on communicating their organisation’s values, purpose, and culture to differentiate them from the pack, and that they engage and listen to their employees and act on their feedback, wherever possible, to mitigate increased turnover. There is no one-size-fix-all for ‘the great resignation’ but helping your employees feel valued and happy is a great place to start.”

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