Flexibility in working arrangements is reaping rewards for innovative employers.

Shortages of key talent are encouraging employers to be more creative and flexible in working arrangements to attract quality staff. There is strong resistance to change but it is starting to take hold. The trade-off is increasing the talent in your organisation in return for the challenges that come with non-standard working arrangements.


  • More senior person for shorter week

An employer had been through a full interview process and failed to appoint someone for a Finance Manager role. The issue was their budget didn’t match their requirements. We restructured the role to a 3-day week using the same budget and appointed someone who had operated at FC/FD level on a 2-year fixed term contract and didn’t want to be tied to full weeks commitment. The outcome is they have a strong senior finance person on the team.

  • 2-day week with flexibility in start/finish times.

I had a request to source someone for a 2-day week role with some flexibility around having to be on site for the 2 days. We found someone who had operated at senior level but had 3 young children and while she had some capacity she needed flexibility in terms of work arrangements and this was challenging. When the company met her, they realised that she was not only the most suitable for the position but based on her experience she also had skills that the company could benefit from beyond this.  Through their flexibility and creativity, they can bring a very talented person into their organisation on a 2-day week basis.

This will not be an easy transition, but change is inevitable.

I understand the pitfalls with employing people on a non- standard week basis and it will only work in limited circumstances and with careful management. I do believe however that employers who are open to alternative work options will find that they are tapping into a talent pool that has a lot to offer and can create competitive advantage.

This will not be an easy transition, but we need to address the fact that the standard work model, which is probably dating back to the industrial revolution, is out of kilter with a significant portion of the higher-level talent pool. The examples above of senior executives who have operated a high level but don’t want the pressures and travel requirements that come with a full-on role or someone at a stage in life where family requirements are not compatible with the standard working week. These people in many cases can do a better job in 3 days than a less experienced person can do in 5 days.

I have come across case studies in Japan and Germany where organisations have redesigned their work arrangements to adapt to the demographics of the talent available. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

The pressure is only going to increase to bring these resources into the productive work market for the benefit of both employer and employee. The employers who embrace the change will reap the rewards of being able to recruit and retain the best talent in an increasingly competitive market. Change is happening slowly but it is in everyone’s interest that it happens!

Career Advice, Featured