Flexible working arrangements and the talent pool

New technologies and working practices should mean that many people can work at a time, and from a location, of their choosing.  But what is the real picture?Catalyst has been conducting a longitudinal study of ‘high potential' graduates of leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the US.  The study sets out to assess career values, goals and expectations and to explore strategies for managing work and family life.Its latest report explores flexible work arrangements (FWA) and sets out to discover how these arrangements impact the careers of men and women.Flexible work arrangements include:

  • Compressed work weeks
  • Flexible start and finish times
  • Flexitime
  • Job sharing
  • Reduced time/part time working
  • Telecommuting
The report finds that 81% of respondents are currently working for an organisation that offers some form of FWA, with little difference between organisational type or size.Key findingsThe report finds a correlation between high career aspirations and access to FWAs: 90% of the ‘high potentials' who had access to FWAs said they aspired to senior executive level roles.  This number drops to 77% in workplaces with no flexible working arrangements.  The gap is even wider for female respondents.  Women in these workplaces were much more likely to ‘downsize' their career aspirations.
  • At least half of respondents stated that FWAs are very or extremely important.  Women were more likely to say this.
  • Women were more likely to report using telecommuting frequently or very frequently (39%) than men (29%)
The report concludes that ‘face time', where employees are seen to be working, is still important in many organisations.Maximising the talent poolOffering flexible working to employees allows organisations to maximise the talent pool amongst its employees.  Both men and women are more likely to aspire to top roles within organisations that do offer flexible working.  If organisations want to be employers of choice for top talent then they should strive to develop a culture that trusts employees to deliver, irrespective of the amount of ‘face-time' they put in.More information.[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]