How flexible working is changing the face of accountancy recruitment

November 10th 2023 | Posted by phil scott

Flexible working is no longer merely a buzzword in the world of accountancy recruitment and employment.

It isn’t a concept that employers can simply make a small nod towards in the way they create new roles for their team. In 2018, job seekers have an expectation that the idea of flexible working is normal and that some level of agility and flexibility should be present within a role.

Flexible working may initially have seemed to be the domain of women returning to work after having children, who may have been looking to utilise flexible working to achieve a work-life balance.

42% of all women in employment in 2017 were working part-time (a straightforward flexible working method), compared to c.13% of men in employment.

However, it’s not only women returning to work who are building their expectations of flexibility in working life.

Both men and women at all stages of their lives have a greater expectation of work-life balance and expect agility to be present in their careers.

Commitments, responsibilities and opportunities outside of work are impacting how people approach seeking new roles and expectations for flexibility are high.

What kind of flexible working are accountants looking for?

  • Compressed hours – the ability to work a full week over a shorter number of days
  • Part-time hours – the ability to balance a career with other commitments by working reduced hours
  • Job share – similar to above, the opportunity to take on board a portion of a role as part of a job share team
  • Remote working – the opportunity to deliver some proportion of work from home or outside the main office.  In 2017, 1.6 million employees regularly worked from home.

The office-based role with set hours and expectations of time at a desk is no longer considered the only way to successfully deliver in a job and modern life continues to push society towards looking at ways of agile working.

How is flexible working impacting recruitment?

Advertising a role – With flexibility being so high on a job seeker’s agenda, to make sure that a role attracts top quality candidates, it makes sense to communicate any level of flexibility at the first point of promotion. This could be simply mean including that the role could be considered part-time for the right candidate if this is a possibility or expressing in the job advert that location is flexible if this is the case.  It’s important to highlight at the beginning the flexible parts of the role that may appeal to the best candidates.

Candidate prospecting – If an employer is willing to offer flexibility in the way of a job share, compressed hours or part-time working, this will impact how a recruiter searches the market for potential candidates.  An employer offering flexibility will significantly open up the pool of quality candidates by extending it to those that are looking for this flexibility.  It will increase the potential of finding the right candidate and won’t block out sections of potential candidates.

Selling the opportunity – With expectations for agile working being so high for candidates, being able to promote a role with a flexible nature is a huge selling point for a recruiter.  It will have a positive impact on how candidates see a potential employer and could contribute to making the search for the right candidate easier.  Companies that offer flexible working will be increasingly attractive for candidates.

Negotiating for accountants – Because of the value that flexible working has in many candidates eyes, recruiters may find that supporting successful accountants as they negotiate their terms may include helping them navigate discussions on the specifics of how flexible working will apply to them.  It’s important for recruiters to understand the needs of their candidates in this area.

Flexible working accountancy recruiters – As flexible working continues to grow in importance, traditional recruitment agencies are seeing the growth of specialist recruiters who offer only flexible roles as standard. This means that those top candidates who require flexibility have even more options from which to source their next role, making it more essential for traditional recruiters to promote flexibility and agility in the roles they have.  This is vital to secure quality individuals to be put forward for new roles for their clients.

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