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Few flexible HR roles available

Many HRDs preach the benefits of agile working, but it's not reflected in their external hires.

Are HR departments walking the talk when it comes to more agile working practices? According to research by HR recruitment firm Oakleaf Partnership there is still some way to go. While 98% of HR professionals say they are receptive to recruiting an external hire on a flexible basis, only 48% have actually done so.


“It’s a tough nut to crack,” management consultant Jane Middleton, who runs Oakleaf’s part-time desk, told HR magazine. “There are preconceptions about part-time workers, and recruitment agencies don’t get as much of a fee placing someone part-time as they do someone full-time.”

Main barriers cited to successful part-time HR working are a lack of continuity (25%) and a lack of visibility (25%), but Middleton is clear: “I don’t know a single job in HR that can’t be done flexibly.”


“We are supposed to be best practice planners, so we need to lead by example,” she added. But according to the research, HR is often battling misunderstanding in the line and prejudice from senior management.

However, it appears HR professionals are clear on the benefits agile working can bring, with 29% citing increased productivity and 25% referencing higher engagement levels. And a majority (85%) say their experience of hiring and working with part-time colleagues is positive or very positive.


Middleton said while it is harder to be hired as an external recruit on a part-time basis, the tide may be turning. She added: “I’m seeing a greater appetite [for hiring part-time HR workers]. The job sharing model in HR is destined for growth.”

Marks and Spencer HR director Tanith Dodge said: “In my own HR team, 36% of people work on a flexible or part-time basis. In order to increase our competitive advantage, it is critical we embrace creative workplace solutions based on a thorough understanding of the supply of talent.”