AN INVESTIGATION TO ASSESS THE PRIORITY OF FLEXIBLE WORKING INITIATIVES TO NEW GRADUATES WHEN CHOOSING A GRADUATE LEVEL JOB.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The CIPD (2016) define flexible working as an arrangement in the workplace, which offers flexibility on how long, when and where employees work. Research suggests that flexible working is on the rise with over a third (34%) of employees highlighting that they would prefer the opportunity for flexible working over a pay rise (Frith, 2016). A study by NUS and Endsleigh found that over 95% of 2000 final year students and new graduates highlighted work-life balance as an extremely important factor when looking for a job (Guinness, 2014). As a result the aim of this research was an investigation to assess the priority of flexible working initiatives to new graduates when choosing a graduate level job. In addition to the overall aim of this research the research objectives outlined the importance of flexible working to new graduates and an assessment of their expectations in comparison to their experiences. Samples of both upcoming and new graduates were used in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of flexible working. The qualitative approach to the research used a contemporary sample, of upcoming graduates participating in focus groups, and new graduates participating in semi- structured interviews. Through the analysis of secondary data and the primary data collected three key themes were highlighted. The three themes included work-life balance and well-being, support and the impact of experience. It appeared that the majority of responses linked to one or more of these categories and in turn also related to one or more of the research objectives. The data collected suggested that unlike previous findings from Woods (2010), Guinness (2014) and Frith (2016) upcoming graduates did not regard the opportunity to work flexibly as important or did not expect it from their first role. However, this significantly contrasted to the new graduates who regarded flexible working as important in their current roles and any future roles. This highlighted the impact of experience on the attitudes towards flexible working between the upcoming and new graduates. The results also suggested that overall the majority of the new graduates were satisfied with their experiences of flexible working which again differed from the findings in secondary data in the works of Wright (2016) and studies by PWC (2014). One of the main points to take away from the research findings was the need for increased education to create awareness of the potential benefits of flexible working to the upcoming generation.
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