The Price of Flexibility - A study on the West Midlands Market


Download our infographic PDF here

For many candidates a step up in pay or a new job title are no longer the only key drivers when searching for a new role. Over the last few years, we have seen “flexibility” go from the fringes of interest to a key requirement for many.

Be it parents looking to manage school drop offs or aspiring accountants looking to cut their hour plus commute down to something more manageable, flexible hours are becoming a must have for many. Despite this, flexible hours in the private sector are still anything but ubiquitous, often seen as something you must earn rather than something that is offered from day one.

With this in mind, we decided to try and measure just how important flexible hours are to the current talent pool and what this means to those recruiting.


The Questions

With such an in depth and varied topic at hand, we decided to ask just three key questions to start:

Q1 - Are you willing to work a strict work schedule for the right role? (Eg. 8.30am – 5pm / 9 – 5.30)
Q2 - Do you work a strict work schedule at the moment? (Eg. 8.30am – 5pm / 9 – 5.30)
Q3 - If offered, how much of your salary would you be willing to swap in exchange for flexible or reduced hours?


Whilst this is clearly not exhaustive as a questionnaire, it gives us a small insight into the minds of West Midlands accountants. The results showed us;

  • 63% of candidates are happy to work to a strict schedule for the right role
  • Only 42% currently work to a strict work schedule in their current role
  • 45% of candidates felt flexible hours were not worth swapping a penny of their salary for
  • However, the majority (55%) felt they would swap at least £1000
  • 25% of the study said they would offer a minimum of £5000 for flexible working, with 10% of this segment saying they would offer £5000+ and it was critical to their search


Talent attraction and retention

What we have seen is that with the M6 and M5 often unpredictable and public transport not able to match that of the capital, flexibility is important to many in the West Midlands.

Based on this data, if you are willing to show zero flexibility in your hours, recruiters could potentially lose out on up to 55% of the talent pool. That is over half of your potential shortlist, not even applying. In reality as a recruiter, this will vary greatly on if you are lucky enough to be well located or have a large employer brand to leverage.

Flexibility is also one of the easiest and strongest ways to build loyalty in your current workforce. You will be surprised how many people appreciate being able to get in slightly later to suit the school run or shoot off to a doctors appointment without having to book it!


Who does this affect?

In short, every employer will miss out on some talent when looking to hire if they are not willing to be flexible. However, the employers we feel who will really benefit from offering flexibility will be;

  • Employers that are in remote or traffic prone locations
  • Employers that are unable to match market rate
  • Those that may not be able to offer the most exciting of industries (We can’t all be google!)


With this in mind, showing just a little flexibility with working hours can help you secure top talent under budget, or help you access talent pools that may be geographically prohibitive.

Finally, our prediction is that flexibility is here to stay. Done well, a little bit of give from employers can see a huge amount in return from current and future employees.

Download our infographic here

You can take our next (1 minute) flexible working survey here!


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