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High Profile Returners… Helen Wright is doing it for herself, for you and for the love of flex.

The birth of “9-2-3” has been a very personal journey. Following a career as a Broadcast Journalist (where I worked for both the BBC and ITV), I stopped working to have a family. During this time, amongst other things, I was Vice Chair of the local Pre School and joined the Parish Council. But when I wanted to return to the workplace, I found being tied to the school run was prohibitive, as was the cost of hiring a nanny to look after my three children.

Chatting to other mums in the playground, I realised I was not alone. There were accountants, solicitors, marketing execs, HR professionals… the list goes on. None were working. What a brain drain! What a waste of experience. Here was a bunch of over-talented women all keen to work – all wanting to put their considerable expertise back to good use.

In short, I realised there are lots of talented workers struggling to be discovered, along with lots of employers struggling to find the professionals they needed. So in 2015 I decided to set up a recruitment agency, “9-2-3”, in order to help connect them.

9-2-3 specialises in flexible roles – whether that’s 9-3 school hours, more traditional part-time hours (of a few days a week) or even full-time hours (but with some home-working or compressed hours).

All the research shows that flexible workers are more productive, have fewer sick days, and greater staff retention – plus they’re more engaged at work, they want to be there!

Last year 9-2-3 commissioned some research of our own which showed that 3 out of 4 office workers (both male and female) believe that we will all be working flexibly within 5 years. After all, flexible working benefits everyone – both businesses and candidates; whether they’re mums or dads, or those with caring responsibilities, or those simply seeking a better work-life balance (so they can come into their place of work feeling refreshed, valued and raring to go).

9-2-3 has enjoyed continued growth and success (in fact we’re hiring ourselves now). We’ve been working with a variety of forward-thinking businesses, all looking to recruit experienced professionals on a flexible basis. We’re currently working on roles in the charity sector, HR, sales, finance and more…

Last year we also launched The 9-2-3 Club, with an exciting event at Westminster – supported by MPs and Ministers. The idea behind the Club is to give members the opportunity to get together at regular meetings where they can share experiences and gain in confidence before re-entering the workplace. These meetings are designed to be fun and informal get-togethers, where we can share experiences and feel inspired and empowered to move our careers forward in a flexible way.

I believe there’s a revolution taking place in our workplaces, and that flexible working is the future. The more of us shouting about it – the louder our voice! So the next time you are speaking to an employer, ask them what flexible working arrangements they have in place, and together we can improve our workplaces for everyone.

You can find all Helen’s latest flexible roles here

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Hospitality: A world of opportunity

Hospitality is the third largest employer in the UK, employing 2.9 million people and contributing a phenomenal £130bn to the UK economy. Surprised? Sadly, many of us associate hospitality jobs as stop-gaps with unsocial hours and no career opportunities. Think again. It’s a thriving industry, with a skills shortage, that’s crying out for good people.

And, don’t just think restaurants or hotels, the industry covers everything from pubs, bars, events, fine dining, visitor attractions, schools, universities and corporate dining. There’s a huge range of roles available within the sector too; bar manager, barista, supervisor, front of house manager, chef, events manager right through to roles in business development, HR and accountancy.

Amy-Lou Osborn, recruitment manager at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, will happily admit that she fell into hospitality, whilst studying for a Stage Management degree at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The flexibility of her role at HA!HA! Bar & Grill enabled her to work around her studies and take time out for filming contracts when she later graduated. Always returning to hospitality between film jobs, she later realised hospitality was where she wanted to be. She worked her way up the ladder, working for high street restaurant brands such as Browns, Frankie and Benny’s and Bill’s, where she also headed-up recruitment for new restaurant openings. Today, at GBK, she is responsible for recruiting and onboarding up to 1000 team members across 93 restaurants in the UK and Ireland.

She told us what it’s like working in the industry, what it has to offer and how you get a foot in the door.

What’s it like working in the hospitality?

It’s so diverse – every day is different. It might sound obvious, but it’s most definitely people-focused. I’m not just talking about the customers, but the team – I’ve actually made life-long friends through work. Everyone works together, pitches in and enjoys what they do, with a common goal of keeping the customer happy.
Unfortunately, the industry is often under-represented and most people aren’t aware of the vast range of opportunities and career progression that’s available. I think a lot of people assume they know what it’s like and discount it.

So, what are the opportunities?

The reality is, is that there’s a huge amount of opportunities and experiences available. And, for the right people, hospitality can enable fast career progression. At GBK, for example, you can go from a starting salary of £7.85 an hour to £30K a year as a restaurant manager, within two years. I don’t think there’s many other industries that can offer that? In most other sectors, you’d be in an entry level job for two years, before there was any hint of development opportunities.

What do you think the hospitality industry offers that other industries don’t?

I think our industry is much more creative in the way we recruit. We know there’s not enough talent out there, so the traditional head-hunting approach doesn’t work – we’d just be competing for and swapping the same people. Here at GBK, we create and invest in talent. For us, it’s about finding the right people with the right attitude and core values and giving them the training and opportunities to grow with us.

Is hospitality a good option for working parents?

By its very nature, working in hospitality is based around flexible working, so is ideally suited to people looking to work in a flexible way. Unlike a 9-5 office job, you can switch shifts to get to sports day or the school play and evening and weekend shifts enable parents who might have a partner with a 9-5 job, the opportunity to work without incurring huge childcare costs. Ten or 15 years ago, I think hospitality would have been a big no-no for parents, but it fits with today’s lifestyles where everyone is looking for flexibility.

What qualities and skills are employers looking for?

It really depends on the employer. Because the industry is so diverse, there really is no one size fits all. At GBK, we employ people who hospitality comes as second nature, people who genuinely want to make someone happy. I can’t speak for the industry at large; every employer is different. But, given the current shortage of skilled workers, now is a good time to enter the industry as more and more employers are training from within with some offering apprenticeships, so you don’t necessarily need to have lots, or any previous experience.

So, how do you get a foot in the door?

It’s worth doing some homework, if it’s a path you’re considering. There are so many roles available across many brands and companies and not every company is right for every person. You might not enjoy working in a fine dining restaurant, but you might be a fantastic Barista in a coffee shop. Contact the big brands to see what the opportunities are but keep an eye on your doorstep too. There may be somewhere local to you that is happy to offer some on the job training. Just get stuck in and if it’s right for you, you’ll fly.

To find out more about working in Hospitality, see a full list of our latest roles HERE

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Employers! Show us your flex appeal

Returners. We all know what it means, right? Women returning to work (or not) after a career break to have a baby.

But what if women didn’t have to Return with a capital R? What would happen if they never really went away, and were able to work flexibly around motherhood?

That’s what we want to see, and, judging by our recent research, you do too.

In our survey of #MummyJobbers, we discovered that 56% of women returned to work after having a baby, and 44% stayed at home. However, of this 44%, only 19% actively wanted to stay at home – the rest felt unable to return to the workplace for a number of reasons.

And guess what? The main reason mums feel unable to return to work is the lack of flexibility. Nearly half of the mums we asked cited this as a reason, with a further 23% saying that the price of childcare put them off. With childcare costs rising faster than wages, in a lot of cases it is simply not worth working – financially, at least.

Of the women who returned to work, we were shocked that only 10% told us they were happy with their return. Again, lack of flexibility was the issue – 39% per cent wished their employer had been more flexible.

Here at MummyJobs, we don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that women are being forced out of the workplace by the lack of flexibility, to return when their circumstances change – when their children go to school, for example.

So we asked our mums what type of flexible working would have suited them best, and enabled them to return to work after standard maternity leave. Most (34%) wanted flexible start and finish times, 24% per cent each wanted the option to work from home or to work part-time, and 14% would have liked to work term-time only.

We truly believe that moving to a more flexible workplace benefits everyone. Time and time again, research has shown that workers are more productive and motivated when allowed to choose their own hours. With so much technology at our fingertips, we should be able to see a world beyond the 9-5 culture that so many businesses are fixated on.

It’s time to stop the narrow-minded focus on ‘returners’ and instead look at how we can make employment work better for everyone, so no one has to go anywhere.

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The Future of Recruitment.. is it in Productivity & Flexibility?

Flexible Working Opportunities for Mums and Dads.

Flexible working is something that empowers you to work where and when you feel you can be most productive. Yet a report recently published by Forbes stated that although 58% of workers are offered flexible working, 24% of workers don’t take it.

Why?

Is it just introduced as an amendment to policies that employees aren’t aware of? Are employers being proactive at letting their staff know of it? Maybe businesses or line managers are reluctant to make it common knowledge because they are unsure of how to implement flexibility in to their teams working days? Or are we as workers scared of the impact that taking Flexible working may have on our career trajectory…

Flexibility in the workplace has become a hot topic recently for many reasons, including (but not limited to), the many of us who are now caring for older parents, various mental health issues, as well as parents fighting for their right to get back to work – normally after years of working for a business who are not able to be flexible around them when they really need them to be. (Should this loyalty that employers look for in staff, not go both ways?)

“From accommodating religious commitments to managing long-term medical conditions such as anxiety and depression, there are many reasons why people need to work flexibly, but many employers still view this as a privilege just for parents with young children,” says Kate Headley, Director of consulting at The Clear Company, which helps organisations recruit staff from a more diverse base. There is and always has been an air of uncertainty about part-timers and even freelancers, due to senior staff worrying about that person’s dedication to the company – something that completely disregards their skills and expertise.

Some sectors are adapting, becoming more open to remote-workers and flexible hours. So I guess the next question is, what’s changed?

Gooliswari Seeburn, a Recruitment Consultant from Crone Corkill says that her company is one of many consultancies that are adapting to the change. ‘Many Flexible roles are urgent, which benefit us financially, but most importantly benefit our clients by being able to keep things running when somebody is on maternity leave, sick leave or even somewhere on holiday.’

Flexible workers are go getters, they’ve got dynamic experience and drive but also adhere to deadlines extremely well and that’s because they are used to a certain pressure.

‘Time equals money and money increases profit, doing the math is easy when you look at it like that’, she commented.

On the other hand, when we discussed how she would feel if her flexible workers decided to work with multiple clients, she did raise concerns; ‘if somebody was working with three brands, I’d be concerned about them being overstretched and limited with time on each project. There would be the worry that they struggle to understand the ‘normal’ day to day work and instead end up working at 10pm at night – I know my client wouldn’t be happy receiving work this late because a flexible worker has put them at the bottom of the agenda over their other two clients’.

Before diving in headfirst into a mad mix of opportunities, it’s worth considering whether it will bring you the tangible results you need. Unless you’re James Bond, a Super Villain or just a multi-tasking HERO – it is almost impossible to deliver all of your workload at the same time without compromising the quality.

I’m sure that there are many Freelancers out there that would disagree with that sentiment and we are certainly of the school of thought that Productivity is key to the future of flexible working, and that our Millennials will almost certainly be more likely to do the same job for multiple contractors. Mainly because their childhood has most certainly taught them to multi-task and their need for upward mobility will certainly give them the drive to handle the additional learning and pro-activity that working 2 or 3 jobs may bring! But what do you think? Is your energy best spent tackling a job at a time, achieving the best results possible or does it depend on the individual?

And if we want to be more productive society now – not just in future generations, shouldn’t we be leading the way like Scandinavia by supporting 6 hour days? Results there show that people can be just as productive working less hours over our current average of 10?

At mummyjobs we think that we should lead by example for the next generation.

Share your thoughts with us below – what’s the future of productivity and flexible working?

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Flexibility is not just a job benefit, it gets better business outcomes

At the beginning of 2018, commuters received their annual shock.

The holidays are over, you’re having a dry month, you promised yourself you’d exercise, and just when life can’t feel any harder going – oh, UK rail fares have jumped 3.4% on average!

Travel costs account for 13% of a person’s salary for the average Chelmsford to London commuter – in fact, much of the pain of these increases is felt by people who need to make their way into London from elsewhere to work.

It begs the question: why, in this world of flexible working, is commerce still so obsessed with working out of offices in London? According to Instant Offices, the average desk space in the West End now costs £732 per month. Multiplied by a workforce, this can be a serious expense. If you’ve got 100 employees you’re close to £1m a year before you even furnish the place.

So why are so many businesses still insisting on doing it?

When I joined TMP in 2013, the behaviours that drive the workplace looked very different than they do today. Physically, it was a huge space, spread over four floors on Tottenham Court Road. Its ‘commercial’ drivers equated to lots of hours, a culture on the serious side, and an expectation of punctuality and presence in the office.

Just five years later, most of my colleagues work flexibly, and that’s allowed us to shrink to just a single floor, with a rotating cast of people from day-to-day on hot desks. It’s buzzy yet relaxed, with a variety of collaboration spaces. People come and go, and we rate each other on our outcomes rather than our facetime.

It works for everyone. The workforce is happy to be trusted and carry out their jobs in a way that fits what they need to deliver as whole people – at work and at home.

The client service leads are happy that their people are out meeting clients and getting into their businesses, instead of taking up desk space and drinking all our coffee.

And the CFO and the rest of the leadership can certainly see the benefit of reducing expensive real estate costs, in a way that is win-win for everybody else concerned: by being flexible.

Not just cost saving or beneficial to clients, this can also attract top talent. A few years back, we had a talented candidate decline an offer from us, because at the time we were less enlightened and required a Monday to Friday, 9-5.30 commitment. As he had a choice where he worked, he chose a firm more willing to trust people to produce results.
Lesson learned, and luckily we’ve changed.

Flexibility also brings inclusion benefits. Forcing everyone to conform to establishment working structures will get you establishment people. A bit of flexibility might open up your business to candidates who think differently and construct their lives in a way that doesn’t follow the average.

Attracting cognitive diversity to your workforce means being open-minded about ways of working.

Being more flexible about where, when and how we work won’t solve our season ticket problems today. But as more businesses learn to focus more on outcomes than processes, we will see benefits to inclusion, less wasted time, and more people who are happy at work.

Heather DeLand is executive creative director of TMP Worldwide

This article was originally published in Recruiter Magazine and on Recruiter.co.uk

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Aviva : A return to work special…

Hi, my name is Gemma and I recently returned back to work from maternity leave.

My partner and I decided to take advantage of the shared maternity/ paternity scheme that Aviva offered last year. I took the first 6 months off, whilst then my husband took the following 4 months off on paternity leave to be with our daughter.

It was a great opportunity as we both got the chance to spend quality time with her as we knew we would never get this time back!

When I came back to work I mentioned that I wanted some flexibility with the hours I worked, as I wanted to spend at least one day every fortnight being actively present in the development of my daughter.

Aviva were very supportive of this request and with the support of my team and manager we made this happen.

I consider that having my husband off whilst I came back to work, took a considerable amount of worry and stress away from me, as I was able to fully focus on my job and get used to work life again.

Since the announcement last November from Aviva on the increase of time for the shared maternity/ paternity policy agreement, it has made me think how else could Aviva support staff in the transition back to work, as we should be able to offer so much more than just an amended policy.

I have since started a working group with the coaching and people function to try and set up a maternity/ paternity transition coaching service for staff going off and coming back to the workplace. Offering support and guidance back into the world of work.

This not allows us to support our people from a policy perspective but from a human/ family perspective too. The aim of the coaching program is to help employees handle the practical and emotional aspects of a parent transition, regardless if this is your first, second or third child in a way it also enables the parent to develop in their careers post maternity or paternity.

You can find out more about our roles and benefits by clicking HERE