Flexible Working - the Answer to Your Recruitment Troubles?

We all know that some people are night owls, others are larks. We appreciate that at a certain age you might have small children and school pick up times to juggle, or perhaps it’s elderly parents or a sick dependent. It may be you have a dog that needs walking or a sport that is your passion. If employers can tap into those core needs of an employee by adopting flexible working, then all the studies show they will gain staff loyalty, increase productivity and encourage some people to return to the workforce.

EY is so committed to a culture of flexible working that they recently held seminars in the Channel Islands to share their experience and encourage other companies to embrace it. Associate partner, Kirsty Mackay was joined by Susanne Jacobs, founder of learning consultancy firm, the Seven.

Flexible working is something EY’s Kirsty Mackay said they’ve been committed to for some time: ‘It’s not really a choice it’s something we have to embrace, it’s something that’s very important for our employees and it’s a value to us. That value comes in increased productivity and also happier, more committed employees because they are managing their own time in line with their own career aspirations.’

Flexible working has been around for years, but it was originally the bastion of women who needed to be able to juggle children and career, that’s changing, but unfortunately the stigma of those who work flexibly hasn’t yet been conquered. A recent survey by Deloitte with Timewise found: 

‘The biggest perceived barriers to flexible working include outdated workplace cultures and attitudes that perpetuate the “flexibility stigma”, and reveals a fear of challenging the status quo.’


Susanne Jacobs says it is important to break the myths around what flexible working actually is, and what it’s not:  ‘It is often associated, whether said out-loud or just thought, with one demographic -mums and families, but it’s really about understanding that it’s something that drives our intrinsic motivation. It’s not a nice to have it is actually imperative in terms of our productivity. I think we need to change the definition. Interestingly it’s now men who are having the real struggle to ask for flexibility - and for slightly different reasons. What men tend to face is that it’s almost seen as emasculating, it’s really not a macho thing for me to ask. It’s about having that conversation about what flexible working is and redefining it in terms of productivity.’

Susanne believes it’s absolutely imperative that flexible working is seen as an approach to work which extends far beyond changing contractual hours: ‘I think it’s absolutely crucial in order to be able to create the right environment for both an ageing population, which still carries an inordinate amount of expertise but whose price tag is a sense of autonomy and flexibility, and  all the way down to those just entering the workforce who actually want to live their lives so they are in  control and have autonomy in how they approach work.’