As we leave national lockdowns further in the rearview mirror, many businesses are still continuing to readjust and in particular consider their staffing situation. While returning to capacity was a much needed relief for many, current recruitment situations are still making that return more difficult. Combined with the complications of Brexit and the rising cost of living pushing up business costs, taking the time to think about introducing additional flexibility can seem like the last thing on the agenda.

But the impact of the pandemic has given workers a new taste for more adaptable ways of working, and for many, the typical 9-5 is now restrictive and old fashioned. Research across employment sectors has found people now actively seek out flexible working options, searching for jobs that allow them to work around their studies or make room for quality time with the family.

In particular, flexible opportunities, not necessarily linked to long-term contracts or experience periods, can be an attractive solution for workers struggling to get “traditional” jobs after long gaps in their CVs caused by unemployment, health conditions, maternity or other circumstances. This helps open up the job pool to fresh talent who may otherwise feel excluded from the market.

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On top of this, industries such as hospitality which rely on a variety of staff employed on different bases to match fluctuations can really benefit from adjusting staffing levels at short notice to keep businesses running smoothly.

But even though flexibility has become the latest buzzword in the world of employment, there’s still the lingering fear that opting for flexible work will involve additional expensive admin or take large scale restructuring for businesses.

However, the pandemic has taught us that in many cases flexibility doesn’t have to come at the expense of productivity or cost — so much so that many businesses are continuing to let their staff work from home or keep flexible hours. And for those still skeptical, embracing a new wave of technological solutions opens up opportunities to make flexibility an asset, not a cause of stress and uncertainty.

Businesses that see embracing flexibility as detrimental to their current staffing practices or an expense they can’t afford could instead risk missing out on attracting vital workforces who increasingly search for employment which allows them to work around the things that matter to them. For this to work, flexibility shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought, or simply as a causal, low-pay alternative, but as a fundamental part of our staffing structures.

Business as usual isn’t always the best way forward. By rethinking how you hire staff, the opportunities available, and even the shift patterns on offer, you can be the difference between continued recruitment struggles and a thriving business.

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