Should we be surprised that finance is somewhat lagging behind other industries when it comes to the adoption of flexible working?

This was originally posted on LinkedIn.
December 5, 2016

You may have already read a few of the posts from my colleagues here at Hydrogen in which they discuss the strategic business importance of flexible working based on the findings of our recent research report.

Leading on from this I want to take this opportunity to discuss some of the key points that affect the many millions of professionals working in the UK’s banking and finance sectors.

If we start with the headline figure, Hydrogen found that 59% of those surveyed are enjoying the benefits of flexible working, which is lower than the UK average of 66%. Interestingly, only 17% work remotely for one day a week or more, half the amount enjoyed by their counterparts in other sectors.

This doesn’t come as a total surprise – after all, like other professional services organisations, this sector has a very traditional approaches to most of its working practices. Finance teams have lots of reporting deadlines and legal auditing requirements throughout the finance yearly calendar which means that people are required to be in the office. Yet despite this, there is no reason why people shouldn’t be allowed to work more flexibly.

Attracting top talent

One of the big issues, which we found to be true across the board, is the negative perception associated with flexible working. A staggering 72% of individuals don’t want their work ethic to be questioned and are afraid that it could harm their promotion prospects. Clearly, there’s a lot that can be done in terms of raising awareness among staff that flexible working boosts productivity.

Talent attraction is another area where flexible working can make all the difference and differentiate organisations. It must be said that the ‘Big 4’ and many of the global banks, on the whole, are doing a good job, for example, investing lots of money in their graduate programmes. Yet less than a third of candidates (31%) knew what their flexible working options were before starting their new jobs. Given the fierce competition and the war for talent, this is some oversight. 

The report highlights some of the areas that organisations should be looking at. As a recruiter used to dealing with hundreds of job descriptions, it never ceases to amaze me that so few bother to mention flexible working. Think of job ads, your company website, on-boarding – the opportunities are plentiful to get the message across. There are no excuses! 

Download the full snapshot report to read more.

Please share your experiences with us and join in the conversation and I’d love to hear your thoughts on flexible working