Changing demographics and the need for workplace flexibility

Workplace demographics have changed and the recruitment industry needs to respond to that by initiating a shift in the way job roles are viewed. Flexible working is one possible solution, encouraging great swathes of the workforce who have traditionally been under-represented to re-enter or remain in the workplace.

Although there are certainly plenty of parents who require flexible working opportunities in order to care for their families, they are by no means the only demographic seeking flexibility in the workplace. As well as an increase in the number of mothers returning to work and fathers who are taking on a share of the childcare, we now have an ageing population who want or need to work past traditional retirement age and family carers that have stepped in to care for ageing parents, plus two generations that prioritise flexible working when job seeking.

Parents

The struggle for parents balancing work and childcare is not a new one but given changing societal values over the past two decades its importance has increased. More and more mothers return to work and an increasing number of fathers are making the decision to play a more active role in childcare. This gave rise to The Employment Rights Act 2002, which gives employees who care for children the right to request flexible working hours. In order to retain the talent of a huge percentage of the working population, flexibility is key.    

Millennials and Gen Z

Millennials are driving the trend for a better work-life balance, with a report back in 2014 by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills finding that 92% of millennials view flexibility as a top priority when searching for jobs. Since 2014 Generation Z – an entire generation who have grown up with the internet since birth – has entered the workplace and brought with it the assumption that technology means that workplaces can and should be fluid. Millennials and Gen Z will shape the future of work and that future looks flexible. 

Ageing workforce

Flexible working provides a solution to capturing talent and experience in the form of workers who twenty years ago would have retired. The ageing workforce, driven by longer life expectancies and a rise in the state pension age, might want or need to continue working later into life but not necessarily in a traditional 9-5, 5 days a week role. Rather than viewing this as a problem, recruiters should embrace the skillsets, attitudes and experience older workers bring and use them to fill vacancies. Reduced hours or remote working could be good options and by offering that, recruiters and employers will be able to tap into the years of experience and talent that demographic offers.  

Carers

With increased life expectancies comes an increase in the number of elderly requiring care, and for greater periods of time. A report into the Future of an Ageing Population by the Government Office of Science found that 73% of disabled people over the age of 65 receive some form of care from a family member, and this percentage is likely to rise given the strain on the care sector already. This means that we will be seeing a higher number of workers needing to take time to care for elderly parents. Offering flexible working hours will allow these part-time carers to continue working and prevents the loss of an entire section of the workforce. 

A multigenerational workforce is becoming the norm, with up to five generations of workers all working alongside each other and requesting flexibility for a variety of different reasons. Instead of viewing this as a problem to overcome, recruiters and employers should approach it as an opportunity to widen the pool of talent available by reaching out to those who couldn’t or wouldn’t work without flexibility.


Wave is proud to be hosting its 2nd Talent Matters event on February 27th, this time focusing on flexible working and the impact it’s having on the recruitment industry. We feel there has never been at better time to talk about flexible talent and have engaged Emma Stewart, CEO and Co-founder of leading flexible working consultancy Timewise. She will be talking alongside best-selling author of ‘Competitive People Strategy’ Kevin Green, as well as Dave Jenkins, CEO of award-winning Wave.