By Daniel Hunter

Just 6% of job adverts mention the provision of flexible working despite more than 14 million British workers wanting to work flexibly, according to recruitment agency Timewise.

Analysis of more than 3.5 million job adverts showed just 6.2% of job adverts for roles offering £20,000 or more made at least some reference to their flexible working options.

Based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, 14.1 million want or need flexible working, Timewise said businesses are neglecting half of the UK workforce.

The study also found that adverts for higher salary positions contain fewer mentions of flexible working availability.

Karen Mattison, Timewise CEO, said businesses were "missing out" by failing to realise how important flexibility is to job seekers.

"This often results in the best talent having to trade down and take jobs way beneath their level of skill and ability," she said.

The report, which classified flexibility as any part-time job and any full-time role offering, a reduced hours contract; different pattern of work such as flexi-time or shifts, or the ability to work from home, also found flexibility declined as salary rises.

A candidate looking for flexible work paying below £30,000 FTE a year will find around twice the job opportunities compared to a candidate looking for work paying more than £40,000 FTE, the study found.

Lynn Rattigan, chief operating officer at EY, UK and Ireland, who supported the research, said: "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.

"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 9-5 working week."

By region, the study found candidates looking for flexibility have comparatively greater opportunities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and in the north of England.

The region with the least flexible working opportunities advertised was London - perhaps reflecting the plentiful supply of candidates.

When analysed by sector it was found that health and education jobs led the way in offering a degree of flexibility — 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. Roles in engineering, manufacturing and creative (PR, advertising and marketing) ranked the lowest, with flexibility advertised in only two per cent of roles.

"It is time to stop talking only about the glass ceilings, and do more to understand the ‘sticky’ floors in UK businesses which are stopping talented people from progressing,” added Emma Stewart, co-CEO of Timewise and report co-author.