Stop skirting around the issue – flexible working is high on the agenda of your PR employees

12 Aug 2019

The results show that having a modern, innovative culture of flexible working can make a company overwhelmingly attractive to new recruits, and in the competitive PR and Comms environment, this can really make them a stand-out employer. Flexibility comes in many forms – whether it’s being able to work from home when required, having flexible start/finish times, working compressed hours, job sharing or working part-time, there should be one or even a hybrid of a couple or more of these options that works for almost any organisation.

As reported by the PR and Communications Census 2019, across the industry, 69% of professionals work flexibly, including flexitime, working from home and shorter working days, leaving 31% of the industry with no flexible working arrangement.

With PR agencies in particular fighting for talent (our survey reported that only 14% of corporate comms professionals would like to move to an agency in their next move), as some of their top performers are choosing to move in-house, freelance or leave the industry entirely, what better way to give future employees the impression that you are a progressive and forward-thinking organisation, willing to listen and accommodate employees’ needs than introducing flexible working?

A closer look showed that 62% of in-house employees think their companies follow flexibility best practice, whereas only 39% of agency employees are of this opinion, showing that agencies need to up their game considerably to attract the best talent.

It’s well known that one of the main reasons the agencies lose talent to in-house corporate comms teams is that professionals have more control of their diary.

Whether an in-house or agency employer, you need to ensure that you understand what employees value most and that you meet their needs. If you don’t, you risk missing out on or losing talented individuals. Providing flexible working is a no-brainer when you compare the cost to the cost of employee turnover.

Agency CEO/MDs tell us, “We are a 24/7 service” and “We are servicing clients and we need to be on call all of the time”. That may be the case but it doesn’t mean that your employees need to be stuck behind a desk, working long hours and not striking enough balance in their life. Agencies are falling out of favour when it comes to being an attractive employer and when PR professionals are crying out for some level of flexibility (at all levels of seniority, I may add) then you simply need to listen. Technology has changed the way we work and with the right processes, some trust, and hiring the right people, it’s not hard to get it right.

Remember, even if the employees in your company haven’t requested flexibility or expressed a need for it, this does not mean they don’t want it. When you empower your employees and give them opportunities to have more flexibility when needed, this can positively affect their productivity as well as their wellbeing.

The way we work is radically changing; the demand is very high for flexible working. Now is the time to capitalise on it. We recently wrote a guide to flexible working and how to implement it.

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