Flexible working ‘nudge’ result in 30% uplift in job applications

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Recruiters that were prompted to consider flexible working when posting a job were 20% more likely to list flexible work options and their adverts attracted 30% more applications than those that did not.

Researchers wanted to understand whether changing the architecture of job advert templates to make flexible working more prominent and ‘nudging’ employers to consider different working options would increase the number of flexible working opportunities on offer. They also wanted to understand how this would affect the number of applications received.

The research, conducted by the Gender and Behavioural Insights (GABI) programme – a collaboration between the Government Equalities Office and the Behavioural Insights Team involved more than 55,000 employers posting more than 200,000 job adverts on job site Indeed in April and May 2019.

Before submitting their application, employers were asked: “what flexible working options would you consider for this role?” and were presented with nine different options ranging from flexitime to job sharing.

Selecting the options would add an additional list to their job posting, offering them a prominent way to illustrate what flexible options they considered.

Employers who were given the additional prompt were 20% more likely to advertise their job with flexible working options – 41.5% did so, compared with 34.5% for those that were not given the prompt.

There was a significant increase in applications all types of flexible working options listed on the site, but flexitime options saw the greatest uplift. Part time working was the most popular overall.

Job postings advertising flexible working received up to 30% more applications than those that did not. A total of 5.5 million applications were looked at in the study.

The researchers estimated that this nudge would add at least 174,000 flexible jobs to the UK economy in a year if used by Indeed alone.

The report concludes: “Our clear positive result is a new step in understanding how to increase the supply of flexible jobs in the UK, and possibly beyond.

“Making flexible working more widely available and offered from day one of a new job has the potential to help normalise flexible working for both women and men. By reducing the barriers for job applicants in asking for and justifying their need for flexible working arrangements, we may see a decoupling of flexible working arrangements as a working pattern which is mostly granted to or demanded by mothers.

“In turn, such working patterns may enable both women and men to thrive in roles that can better accommodate their wellbeing and their caring duties.”

Bill Richards, managing director at Indeed, said: “Indeed’s mission is to help people get jobs and this purpose means we are constantly learning about the type of work people want to do. We know jobseekers value a strong work-life balance and one of the emerging trends in recent years has been a rise in searches for flexible work.

“Indeed is driven by improving the overall experience for jobseekers and we frequently test products in an effort to make the process of hiring better overall. Our work with the Behavioural Insights Team produced fascinating insights into the impact of flexible working options on both employer and jobseeker behaviour. After further jobseeker research, there are plans to test other prompts for employers posting jobs on Indeed in the UK.”

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