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Survey names flexible work policy as top talent trend

Employers who offer flexible work policies are likely to increase their pool of candidates, according to a new survey by LinkedIn.

A flexible work policy is important to successful hiring, according to a recent LinkedIn report.

LinkedIn, known for its professional networking site, surveyed more than 5,000 talent professionals globally on top workplace trends. The survey, Global Talent Trends 2019, which was released on Monday, identified hiring candidates with good soft skills as the top trend, according to 91% of survey takers. Second was a flexible work policy, according to 72% of respondents.

To improve collaboration, LinkedIn said firms are using messaging platforms, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, as well as video conferencing platforms, such as GoToMeeting, Webex and Skype.

Flexible work policy 'very important'

LinkedIn found that the number of job ads mentioning a flexible work policy has nearly doubled since 2016. According to the survey, about a third of prospective employees said a flexible work policy is "very important," if not a top priority, when considering a job.

The survey also found that a flexible work policy is more important for women than men, by 36% to 29%. Remote work isn't universally popular with employers that can offer it. IBM made a significant change in its policy for part of its workforce.

Indeed, an online job board, made a similar finding in November. Its survey of 500 people found that 37% of employees work for a firm that has a flexible work policy. And nearly half, or 47%, "say that whether a company allows remote work is an important factor in choosing a job."

According to LinkedIn's survey, a flexible work policy was most important to employees in Northern Europe, where it was cited as very important by 85% of those surveyed. The U.S. was at 75%, and China was at the bottom, at 52%.

Key takeaways from LinkedIn's Talent Trends survey

HR can be a lonely job

It is a lonely job.
Alex TolbertCEO at BerniePortal

Remote work can be isolating, but so can working in HR at a small firm.

Most small businesses only have one HR employee until they reach 100 to sometimes more than 150 employees, according to a new survey of 136 small businesses by BerniePortal, an HR suite vendor for small businesses.

"If you work in HR at a small employer, you probably are going to be on your own," said Alex Tolbert, CEO of BerniePortal. "It is a lonely job."

HR employees at small firms may have responsibilities beyond HR alone. Just over a third of those surveyed do not use HR software, and those who do may not be using it to manage the full scope of HR operations, such as applicant tracking.

Smaller firms may instead use the HR services provided by insurance brokerages, which provide benefits administration and onboarding as part of their service offering, Tolbert said.

For HR workers at small businesses, a difficult question is this: "What does the career path look like?" Tolbert said. "That's one of the big challenges to the employer. What career path are you offering that person? It's very hard."

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