Timewise analysed 3.5 million UK-based job vacancies and found only a small per cent of quality jobs offer salaries of £20,000 a year or more and some degree of flexibility.
With 14.1 million people in the UK believed to want or need flexible work, Timewise is urging employers to mention flexibility in job advertisements, to attract a more diverse range of candidates.
Timewise CEO Karen Mattison, who co-authored the research, said: “The world of work has experienced a revolution – technology advances and recent legislations have facilitated a huge growth in flexible working, yet this has not been reflected in hiring practices.
"Businesses are missing out, as they consistently fail to realise just how important flexibility is to people looking for a new role. This often results in the best talent having to trade down, and take jobs way beneath their level of skill and ability.”
The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index found that flexible opportunities are better outside of London, with more roles available in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England.
It also found that the most jobs with flexible working options are to be found in the health and education sectors, and that the engineering, manufacturing and creative (PR, advertising and marketing) industries offer the lowest number of flexible options.
Flexibility also declines at higher salary levels: a candidate looking for flexible work below £30,000 a year full-time equivalent will find twice as many opportunities as someone looking for a salary of more than £40,000.
Mattison told HR magazine that HR leaders are in a “unique position to ensure that if businesses are open to flexible hiring they say so”.
“HR often holds strong relationships with both recruitment teams and key business leaders and can articulate the benefits in a way that works for both groups,” she said. “For recruiters this is part of the collateral that helps you produce the best shortlist of candidates. For managers, this will give you sight of the best people you can hire.”
She added that she understood that not every job can be done flexibly, but said it’s important to be clear either way.
“If it’s simply not mentioned applicants remain confused,” she said. “It is as simple as looking at a role and asking the question: 'for the right candidate, would we be able to offer flexibility of when and where they worked?' If the answer is yes, then why wouldn’t you say so?”
EY UK & Ireland COO Lynn Rattigan said: “One of the major challenges facing most businesses across the country is attracting and retaining the right people. Yet many organisations are restricting their search by applying the traditional concept of a nine to five working week, which is fast becoming outdated.
“There is a growing pool of talent, not just parents, who are looking for flexible roles that allow them to balance their professional and personal ambitions.”