'Make all charity roles flexible', say sector leaders

Sector organisations NCVO and ACEVO are calling for all charity roles to be advertised as flexible.

The say the move would make flexible working “the default position for employment in the sector”.

It is also “vital to attracting and retaining the most talented people and essential for building inclusion, diversity, equity and wellbeing”, they add.

Charities are being urged to talk to staff about how the drive to flexible working would work in their organisation.

Flexible working can include home working, hybrid arrangements where staff work remotely and, in the office, as well as four day weeks, with staff benefitting from longer weekends.

The proposals are being made in a report from the sector organisations called Time To Flex, which includes research by the Flexible Working Group. This was set up in 2021 and includes charity leaders such as Working Families CEO Jane van Zyl and is chaired by Changing Faces chief executive Becky Hewitt.

“Many charities are facing a moment where the need is greater than ever before – while resources and funds are increasingly stretched,” said Hewitt.

“Our passionate, committed and mission-driven workforce often ‘lean in’ themselves, working long hours in service of the cause and not wanting to ‘let anyone down’

“Yet Covid-19 has taught us that we can work differently – and more flexibly – when the will is there.”

She added: “There is now a unique opportunity to build on what we have learnt during the pandemic and move on from outdated ways of working.”

Other recommendations include encouraging charity workers to share stories around flexible working to share best practice.

A mindset among some charities is also needed to “embrace a position of trust – where individuals are more empowered to manage their time based on outcomes and impact, rather than when and where they work”.

In addition, charities need “to have the courage to experiment, make mistakes, adjust, learn and improve” as well as “be honest about what is and isn’t working while keeping a focus on individual needs”, the sector organisations add.

They also stress the benefits of flexible working to helping organisations me more diverse and inclusive as well as support the mental health needs of their staff.

“Increasingly, ACEVO and NCVO members tell us that they’re interested in implementing more flexible working arrangements in their organisations,” said NCVO interim chief executive Sarah Vibert and ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning in a joint statement.

“The subject is now particularly important given the changes to the way we organise work brought about by the pandemic and the need for a more inclusive culture.

“We want to create a culture in the voluntary sector that values and champions flexible working. Flexible working promotes wellbeing in the workplace, and it increases productivity.

“It’s critical for inclusion. It’s important for attracting and retaining a talented, diverse pool of staff.

“Put simply flexible working for our teams will help the voluntary sector deliver more for the people and communities, we support. We’re looking forward to working with our members to make flexible working in voluntary organisations the norm.”

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