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Business is mad not to embrace flexible working*

* According to Steve Varley, Managing Partner and Chairman of Ernst & Young and I must say I totally agree!

In a recent article in the Times newspaper Steve Varley commented: “Five years ago flexible work was something we tolerated at Ernst & Young. If a respected member of staff wanted to work four days a week instead of five, or work from home part of the time, we would hear them out and, often grudgingly, agree. We did it because we had to.

That had to change. After the downturn, we needed to make sure that we were attracting and keeping the best people. There was another reason to embrace flexible working — our clients need a high degree of flexibility too. Their demands are different at different times of the year, the week or even the day. Flexible working helps us become a more agile business as well as retaining the loyalty of staff.

Only 6.2 per cent of job vacancies even mention flexible working as a possibility. Employers should think again because building in flexibility to every job offer is a powerful recruitment tool. Being known as a flexible employer has given my company access to a better and more diverse talent pool.

Offering greater choice in working patterns has the feel of the new wave about it. Like many businesses, Ernst & Young has its roots in the 19th century, and it would be easy for young people to think of us as a bit staid. But these days we are seen as a progressive place.

Five years ago none of EY’s job advertisements mentioned flexibility. Now they all do, from the boardroom down. Flexibility has gone from something we tolerate to something we actively promote. Other companies wrestling with how flexible to make their workforce should examine the way they operate and compare it with what their clients really want. It is quite likely they will benefit from a more agile workforce.

They then need to look at how they recruit. If they want the very best and most talented candidates to come and work for them, then offering the chance to work flexibly from Day One is, in the current competitive market for recruits, one of the strongest encouragements they can offer”.

BCL Legal – opinion by Mark Levine

With the ‘war for talent’ at the most intense level it has been for probably 7/8 years offering flexibility in your recruitment strategy is an amazing way of opening the role to additional lawyers, in particular those individuals who are often responsible for children. Some of the best lawyers we work with have a requirement to have flexibility in their work pattern to coincide with school hours.

Not only does offering some form of flexibility open up your recruitment campaign to a new pool of often untapped potential it is also my experience that once in the job, individuals are much more content given that the work/life balance is more likely to be working for them. In turn this makes for more productive and positive employees.

When it comes to recruiting I would simply suggest being open to the idea of flexibility and recruit the best person for the job!

For more information please contact Mark Levine or visit our website BCL Legal.

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