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Poll: Over half of UK working parents would consider leaving their job if they found another with better flexibility

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A new YouGov poll commissioned by Working Families and SF Recruitment underscores the impact and importance of employers prioritising flexible working as part of their recruitment strategy. Launched to mark the start of National Work Life Week (10-14 October), the poll of 992 UK parents of children aged 18 and under demonstrates that advertising all vacant roles with flexible options stated by default widens the talent pool for employers and unlocks opportunities for parents. 

Our research found that:

  • Parents are much more likely to apply for roles that list flexible working options in the job advert than those that don’t. The poll found that 8 in 10 UK parents (82%) would be likely to apply for a role that listed flexible working options, while only 3 in 10 parents (31%) would be likely to apply for a role that did not list flexible working options.
  • Parents looking for work are even more likely to apply for jobs with flexible options: our poll found that 9 in 10 unemployed parents in the UK would be likely to apply for a role that listed flexible options in the job advert.
  • Access to flexibility impacts retention: over half of UK working parents (55%) would likely consider leaving their job if they found another one that offered more flexible options.
  • For all UK parents, flexibility (66%) is second only to pay (73%) in terms of priorities when looking for a new job. However, for mothers, flexibility and pay are tied as the top priority.
  • Of the UK parents currently in work, 3 in 10 are in jobs below their skill level because their jobs offer greater flexibility. This shows a need for more high-quality part-time and flexible roles in the labour market.
  • Employers need to think beyond just home and hybrid working: nearly half of these parents (46%) work in place-based roles, roles that cannot be done remotely because the work has to take place at a specific location.

 Jane van Zyl, Chief Executive of Working Families, said:

“This research demonstrates that flexible working is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Flexibility is a top priority for parents in the UK, and if employers want to stay competitive, it’s vital that they start to examine the ways that each of their roles can be done flexibly, and advertise them as such. Our polling clearly shows that recruiting flexibly has a massive positive impact on talent attraction and retention. And with the current cost-of-living crisis putting so many families into financial jeopardy, offering flexible roles at the point of recruitment opens opportunities to those who have caring responsibilities but who desperately need additional income. Recruiting in this way is good for people and good for business.”

Saira Demmer, CEO of SF Recruitment, said:

“Our belief in flexible working as a route to unlocking high-performance runs deep. We launched our Flex for Success campaign earlier this year because flexible working has been proven to enhance not only an individual’s performance and success, but also to drive business performance. For us flexibility is not just about when and where people work, but about trust and empowerment to be autonomous in their work. When individuals have a sense of agency, they feel more engaged, more efficient, and more innovative and this in turn drives a high-performance culture. This is something we have experienced first-hand here at SF Recruitment and we feel so strongly about the benefits that flexibility can bring, we have committed to helping raise awareness of the improved productivity, increased well-being and business success that come with it!”

About Working Families

Working Families is the UK’s national charity for working parents and carers. Our mission is to remove the barriers that people with caring responsibilities face in the workplace.

We provide free legal advice to parents and carers on their rights at work. We give employers the tools they need to support their employees while creating a flexible, high-performing workforce. And we advocate on behalf of the UK’s 13 million working parents, influencing policy through campaigns informed by ground-breaking research.

About SF Recruitment

SF Recruitment is the leading specialist recruitment consultancy for Finance, Technology & Professional Services.  SF was founded in 1998 on a simple belief: everyone deserves to work in a job they love. That’s why more than 70% of the roles we recruit for offer flexible working options, almost triple the UK average in 2022.

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