Ad industry's flexible job options fall short of demand, survey finds

Flexible working: there are misconceptions that it's a 'nice to have'
Flexible working: there are misconceptions that it's a 'nice to have'

Timewise revealed ad industry's proportion of flexible jobs falls short of national average.

The advertising, marketing and PR industries fall behind the national standard in offering flexible working to employees, according to a survey of UK job ads. 

The Flexible Jobs Index, an annual survey by consultancy Timewise, analysed more than five million UK job ads to find out how many offer flexible working. It found that 15% of overall vacancies had flexible working options, compared with just 12% in advertising, marketing and PR. 

This figure is up from last year, when 9% of job vacancies in the communications industries offered flexible options. But it still fails to meet the high demand for flexible jobs in the UK: 87% of employees said they want to work flexibly. 

"All the data shows that flexibility is now just as important to candidates as salary," Karen Mattison, co-founder of Timewise, said. "Yet we have a situation where it’s a really opaque job market that leaves candidates to do all the guessing." 

In the communications industry, the chances of finding a flexible job narrow as employees advance, according to the report. People who work flexibly often get "stuck" in their current roles, because there isn’t a flexible jobs market for them to go to, resulting in a lack of career progression or employees missing out on prime candidates. 

A lack of flexibility can also exacerbate issues such as the gender pay gap, Mattison added. 

She continued: "The job market hasn’t caught up with the way people want and need to work. The creative industries in particular need some innovation and creativity in the way they design and advertise jobs.

"Employers are missing a trick. If you lead with flexibility as well as things like salary, you’re tapping into people who otherwise might not be active candidates. It’s all about designing jobs in a clever way that fits the modern worker." 

Many employers still have misconceptions around flexible working, such as the idea that only mothers might want it, Mattison explained. Yet Timewise’s research has shown that "men want it just as much as women, and younger workers want it the most" she said: "We have to break down this idea that flexibility is a ‘nice to have’."

Following the survey, Timewise is seeking nominations for its Power 50 awards, which celebrate successful part-time and flexible workers as well as businesses that prioritise flexible working.

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