Inflexible employees lose out in a candidate short market.

If you were unsure if Australians are really craving family-friendly, flexible workplaces, the 22,000 likes on Rachel Perkin’s recent LinkedIn post should leave no room for ambiguity.  Rachel shared a CEO’s directive that “If anyone needs to bring their child to the interview we can accommodate that. We have toys and books for younger children.” It is easy to imagine over twenty thousand people fist pumping the air in support of this CEO’s practical approach to offering work-life balance.

As of December 1st, 2018,  the Fair Work Commission acknowledged the need for more flexible arrangements for workers and a “Family friendly working arrangement” was inserted into all modern awards. That being said, many workplaces just are not interested or set up to support this approach and have not created an environment that embraces flexibility and collaboration.

Teresa Messina has been working at Davidson for over 18 months as ‘Practice Lead’ in the Technology Division of the Melbourne office. Teresa left her last role where she had been a successful recruiter for eighteen years as she was, “attracted to the family feel of Davidson and the amazing opportunities for growth and development.”

Sarah Gusman, who returned in February from nine months of maternity leave, job shares with Teresa. Sarah and Teresa had worked in a previous company together and they both made the move to Davidson and haven’t looked back.

Teresa identifies that “job sharing and collaborating to use the best of our abilities allows both Sarah and I  the opportunity to stay at the level we are at while working part-time in order to balance work with our young families."

The current arrangement is fluid and will change over time, as currently, as Sarah transitions from one to two days a week.

"It is a great feeling knowing that Sarah and I are allowed to manage our workflow without being micro-managed. At Davidson, no one makes assumptions about your level of commitment when you have children or asks you to take a step back.  I have friends in other workplaces who were initially allowed some flexibility when they returned from maternity leave but then had no choice but to assume fulltime hours within a few months.”

Sarah identifies that "in a candidate short market many experienced women in their 30’s are off the table to the companies that don’t offer part-time, job share or work from home opportunities. Growing numbers of men also wish to lessen their hours or take extended paternity leave, so it isn’t just women that are seeking less traditional work arrangements.”

Millennials are not necessarily motivated by money and many want a work-life balance as they juggle study, side hustles or travel with their job. Fulltime roles are not the end goal for many in 2019.“ Government and private sector employers are keen to fill their diversity quotas,“ Sarah notes, ”but if they want to select from a broad spectrum of candidates, widen their scope of choice and acquire the best and brightest talent, flexibility must be on the table.”

Some companies pay lip service to the offer of a flexible work environment, remote work options or job-share roles but the prevailing lack of trust these employees feel when not visible at their desk can make it a fairly hostile place to be. Remote or part-time employees are often left out of office memos and get-togethers and this lack of communication and genuine care of employees invariably has a detrimental effect on engagement and performance.

Teresa loves that “Davidson sees my value and I don’t have to explain myself if I have to leave  20 minutes early and I am not interrogated about when and how I will be making up the time. My results are what matters. Being appreciated and working for a company that supports and champions working parents and work-life-balance, means so much. It just comes down to trust.”

Companies that see the value of attracting and supporting talented staff and offering them flexibility when it is needed will retain the best and brightest employees. These employees will be engaged and more likely to go the extra mile for a company they feel a part of and that respects them. Encouraging a collaborative way of working also offers clients and candidates full access to a company’s talent pool.

Global recruitment Insights and Data surveyed employers about their top priorities in 2019 and ‘Candidate Acquisition’ and ‘Engaging and improving the candidate experience” were the top concerns of employers. It is more important than ever for employers to identify the talent they have and make sure they have what they need to succeed in balancing work and family. Steve Job’s identified that ‘It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.’

If companies offer flexibility and promote collaboration in the workplace within an environment of genuine trust this combination will allow people to get creative, work smart and build growth.


If you are exploring your next career move in recruitment or consulting or want to speak to one of our consultants about how they can enhance your workplace, visit the Davidson website and get in touch.