Flexibility is key when it comes to attracting quality candidates in the extremely competitive market that Ireland is currently experiencing. ‘Flexible work’ can mean remote or hybrid working, compressed hours, part-time or full-time with flexibility, annualised hours, term-time work or anything else that is flexible in nature.
EmployFlex, a recruitment agency specialising in flexible work, currently has over 6,000 high-calibre candidates on its books and can help West Cork employers in the current war for talent. Karen O’Reilly has some advice for how companies on how they can introduce flexible working conditions to attract and retain that talent.
“We’ve been talking about flexible work since 2016 when we set up our original company, EmployMum,” Karen says. “In a survey we conducted before Covid, 92 per cent of employees stated that, all things being equal, they would move jobs if more flexibility was being offered in another role.
“In the aftermath of Covid, employers are certainly more open to the conversation around flexible and remote work because they have seen that it can work, and that the appetite is there from the employee’s side.
“Companies now offering flexibility will obtain and retain the best people on the market; companies who don’t will simply be left behind.”
Reflecting industry demand, Employflex is currently recruiting for positions in finance, marketing, legal, HR, tech and engineering. “Because ‘staff churn’ is a major and costly headache for employers, they are looking for ‘sticky’ talent,” Karen explains, “that is skilled and experienced people who are going to stay with them for the near future.
“By offering flexible work, employers will be giving employees what they want, resulting in a happy and productive team who are more likely to stay.”
Karen has a number of suggestions when employers ask how they can introduce flexible working conditions for their employees:
“Most importantly, be authentic in your desire to offer flexibility. The first thing we would advise is to get feedback from your employees to see what works for them. Then communicate well with your people to figure out what is going to work best for employee and employer.
“Ensure the culture of flexibility is coming from the top down and start off any new working model for a trial period to see how it works and what needs adjusting.”
When it comes to using this flexibility to attract candidates, Karen says it is important to “review the messaging from the company so that it is clear that flexibility is being offered; then draw up job specifications that accurately reflect the flexibility on offer. You can apply for the Flexible Place to Work award from EmployFlex to demonstrate that you are not just paying lip service to flexibility.”
The Irish government is currently working on new legislation around the Right to Request Remote Work. “The first draft was heavily in favour of employers with 13 very broad reasons as to why they could refuse this request,” Karen says. “Our hope is that the final legislation will deliver some more rights to the employee to balance this equation.
“Really, it is up to individual companies to offer flexibility but from speaking to our clients today, in an employees market, many are warming to the idea and realising that, to attract the best talent, flexibility must be on the table.”
Finally Karen has five key pieces of advice for someone looking to change careers:
“It is an employee’s market at the moment so remember that you are in a strong negotiating position. Shop around if you don’t like the look and feel of what a company is offering.
“Design a killer CV. Your CV will get you an interview so ensure that it is going to stand out from the crowd. We have some great webinars on our website, advising on how to do just that.
“Use your network and get the word out that you are looking for a specific role – don’t be vague! People generally want to help others, especially in Ireland, so get active online and in person.
“Get on LinkedIn and use this as a marketing tool for your own brand.
“Use a recruitment agency that has your best interests at heart, like Employflex!”
Both employers and job seekers will find lots more useful advice at www.employflex.ie or call Employflex on 087 9722498, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.