True flexibility can be hard to find in the professional services sector. Many companies make promises but these can be a far cry from the reality. Niche tax firm Frank Hirth explains how it strives to support its employees in work and life. Head of human resources Victoria Patricks has worked at Frank Hirth since September 2017. She has experienced the company’s flexible approach first hand, having applied for a position advertised as full-time. When she applied she asked to work a four-day week and to leave the office at 4.30pm. “They were completely open to the suggestion – and I had applied to other places that weren’t,” she says. “Some working patterns may not be suitable, but we will always have a conversation about it.” Flexi-time as standard Founded in 1975, Frank Hirth is a niche firm that specialises in UK and US tax advice and compliance including personal tax, corporation tax, owner-managed businesses, trust and estate taxation. Although it has grown to around 200 people, with offices in London, New York and Wellington, it retains a family firm culture. The firm offers flexi-time as standard – based around the core hours of 10am to 4.30pm. Employees are then free to decide how to make up their hours between 8am and 6.30pm. A two-hour lunch break is also possible. This allows individuals to manage their workload in a way that fits their other commitments. Retention is strong, with 44% of staff having been at the company for more than five years and another large proportion of workers who have joined from school or university in the last five years. At busy times the whole team work together to meet deadlines and good communication is encouraged to make flexibility work for all. “We don’t have a divide between fee earners and support staff,” says Victoria. "Everyone sits together and the only people in offices are directors, who have an open-door policy." As well as the flexi-time option, some team members work part-time or from home. The MD of Frank Hirth, Robyn Limmer, is a mother of three grown up children who has experienced life as a working mother and understands the challenges. A positive experience Victoria’s own experience has been extremely positive, and she is keen to ensure mothers have access to flexible roles in the business. Not all roles are suitable for people who would like to work from home, for example reception staff - but in these cases other flexible options are considered. “Having had a child and experienced redundancy at the same time I know you can lose confidence when you have a break from work. It’s silly really, but it’s a reality,” she says. “We know how productive someone can be when they have other things outside work. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to us if you are a mum or want to do charitable work and pursue other goals, we know that people have a life and we want them to enjoy it.” Families are invited to the firm’s annual summer party, this year taking place in Brighton, and the office is closed between Christmas and New Year in addition to normal holiday allowances. There is an energetic board driving progress and an employee committee implementing initiatives focusing on employee engagement and making Frank Hirth a great place to work. Flexibility works for the clients too “The flexible approach is not an issue for clients,” says Victoria. “In fact, there is strong feedback from them on service and response time.” A genuinely flexible approach is rare in professional services – with employees often finding that the reality does not match the promises made. It doesn’t have to be this way. “Flexibility is harder to implement in professional services but only because of the attitude,” says Victoria. “It tends to be that a number of senior roles are held by men. Women still tend to have the main childcare responsibilities and this, coupled with inflexible working hours, means they may never progress as far as they should. This is gradually changing in the industry but Frank Hirth is ahead of the game.” The fact that Frank Hirth is not a partnership helps maintain a flexible balance. “We are a privately-owned company, with more than 50% owned by an Employee Benefit Trust. Not being a partnership helps as that can drive certain behaviours and our directors aren’t assessed on their own P&L.” Candidates should be upfront about their childcare needs Using 2to3days is part of the company’s open approach around flexibility. The firm feels candidates should not have to hide their childcare needs and family lives. Instead they should be upfront about their requirements and what they can offer. Associate Director Laura Knight says this has made all the difference to her career advancement and she has returned to the business after taking maternity leave twice. “I am fully supported as a respected employee and have continued on in my career, having been promoted since having two children and only working part-time,” she says. “There are no boundaries apart from those we set upon ourselves and being a parent has not stopped me from achieving my goals. The firm offers flexi-time which helps fit around childcare and the support given helps make the juggling act so much easier.”
Global design and consultancy firm Arcadis recognises and celebrates diversity, encouraging its people to be themselves at work. As the company releases a series of career opportunities with 2to3days, Head of Talent Acquisition Emma Heerah explains that diversity improves the quality of life for its people and drives design innovation. Juggling life and career development can be challenging. Whether that's working parents struggling to make it to school events; carers wrestling with conflicting responsibilities, or people feeling they need to hide aspects of their identity to fit in and get ahead. At Arcadis we don't think it should be this way. We believe diverse teams are better teams. We embrace an open and unique outlook on life from every one of our employees. We know that the best creative and innovative thinking for our clients comes from individual diversity and a supportive dynamic work environment. With the right conditions, it is possible to have a fulfilling career, successfully manage other commitments in life AND enjoy it. Removing the barriers to our people fulfilling their career potential is something we work hard to achieve. Our work spans many disciplines - from consultancy to engineering and architecture to cost management - but its united under a common vision to improve quality of life. We see people where others see projects, and we recognise that when we design environments we impact lives. That philosophy is embedded in the way we work. Part-time and flexible working empower our people to own their time and performance. We have created an environment where output and achievement are the measures used, not the amount of time you sit at your desk. Arcadis has successfully moved away from work as a physical place, instead embracing the notion of work as an activity. We work to improve cities, housing and infrastructure across the UK, using our skills to ensure places are well-designed and improve the lives of those who live and work in them. Working from home, the train, and occasionally on the move means our team members can come to work confident that they can manage their other commitments and collaborate in office-based and face-to-face meetings. Our multiple office locations mean team members can change their work locations when they need to, driving team engagement and stronger working relationships. Flexibility for all Ten years ago, flexible working was exclusive to a few forward-thinking industries (and roles) but that has changed. We see it as a basic requirement, not a benefit reserved for a few. All our people want to feel they can be themselves and that fulfilling work doesn't cost them in other areas of their lives from family and caring, to studying and sports. Elisabeth Selk, Strategic Research Consultant, has experienced this first-hand after taking a career break. I was keen to re-launch my career but equally keen to keep a degree of flexibility, she says. After taking part in a Women Returner initiative she realised that there was a market for experienced professionals seeking flexibility and applied for a position with Arcadis, advertised on 2to3days. "It turned out that this position was not quite the right level for me. However, I must have made the right impression with the team, and when a new position became available in the team a month or two later, I was offered a role in the Strategic Research team in Client Development." She adds: "I have now been working as a strategic research consultant developing and communicating thought leadership and strategic research for buildings and infrastructure. I really enjoy the challenge, working with the team, while enjoying a good work-life balance through my flexible working arrangement." We believe in working in a team where you are trusted and empowered to work to a schedule that fits you and your life. You should feel confident that you can fulfil your life ambitions and commitments as well as pursuing a fulfilling career one is never at the cost of the other. Arcadis is an aspirational place to work which recognises we are never the finished article and strives to stay ahead of the challenge inequality in the workplace presents. We are working with all parts of our business to create more part time and flexible working opportunities which we hope will attract greater diversity. This includes roles at all levels of Arcadis, including management and leadership level where we can create positive role models. Our latest part-time career opportunities demonstrate that Arcadis is a place where diversity is valued, enabling our people to thrive and raising the quality of the spaces and places we design.
Companies need to effect real change in the way they attract and support senior women if they are to plug the gender pay gap. The power of the 2to3days ‘hood’ means firms can reverse the exodus and change public perception. The deadline for gender pay gap reporting is upon us and there have already been some nasty surprises from companies that have revealed their figures. From Channel 4 and ITN to Goldman Sachs, HSBC and beyond, companies have been forced to reveal large gender pay gaps, often caused by gender imbalances at senior levels. Those employing more than 250 people have until 4th April to publish their gender pay gap figures. “Businesses are facing the consequences of past inflexible cultures, which forced women out of the workforce when they had children,” says 2to3days founder Juliet Turnbull. “They made it almost impossible for women to stay on and progress their careers.” The resulting exodus of senior women and gender pay gulf means companies have a huge issue to tackle. The business world needs to hire women who left their industries back into senior positions. The way to do this is by offering genuine flexibility – the kind of flexibility that truly allows people to manage their lives and careers without sacrificing one for the other. Those whose gender pay gap audit results are looking less than stellar need to review their approach and start offering the flexibility that will attract talented senior women to the organisation. There are so many reasons to do this aside from the legislative push – diverse teams make better decisions, for example. In the past these arguments may have met boardroom disinterest or resistance. Now gender pay gap legislation is focusing minds on the perils of ignoring the issue. There is talk in political circles of future fines for firms that fail to publish their data or tackle their gender gaps. So, if your audit shows you have a gap to close, now is the time to do something about it. This means changing the way you recruit and reward women. “By offering genuine flexibility at the top, businesses send a very clear and positive message that life and work can be integrated and will be fully supported,” says Juliet. “This message will be received by their female intake, from graduates upwards.” Anything less than genuine flexibility, fair pay and transparency will not plug the gap. Even then, it’s going to take time to raise levels of senior women. Once a company has a poor reputation for gender equality that can be hard to shift. It’s time to make changes and shout about those changes. At 2to3days we offer the solution to the problem of finding and recruiting senior women. We have 27,000 women registered with us looking for flexible roles and we are being talked about from the boardroom to the school gate. Mothers champion mothers and share our jobs between themselves, so use the power of the 2to3days ‘hood’ to plug the gender pay gap and change public perception of your business. We are already working with firms such as Nationwide, Grant Thornton, Arcadis and Santander to move the pendulum on their female hiring approach. Join the 2to3days 'hood' (our community) and work with us to create sustainable change so the gender pay gap issue is no longer an issue.
Rowena is Head of Architecture Operations & Development at Nationwide. Here she shares her thoughts on the value of mentoring, and her top five tips for women considering STEM careers. Rowena joined the Society 31 years ago as part of the graduate scheme, working in Retail and Direct Sales, before joining IT as a retail expert in 1994. More recently, she set up the Programme Architecture team at Nationwide, also known as Solution Architecture. What makes a good female mentor? At University, Rowena studied Geography, which she describes as the ideal blend of logic and creativity - much like her current role which combines logical thinking and innovation with a love of people leadership. Mentoring allows Rowena to ask the questions others, including the colleague’s line manager, may find hard. In doing so, she believes it can help force the individual to get to the real route of an issue. “I’ve been told I have an ability to see patterns in what they’ve done before, which can help them forge a new perspective. It’s about combining the logical with emotional.” Since joining Nationwide, Rowena has mentored many women, a total of 10 in the last few years. This is usually as they consider the transition from a senior role to a leadership role. Mentees are either 'matched' to her via recommendations from others across the business, or via HR if they’re believed to be a good match: “I enjoy mentoring because I’m fascinated by people, their journey and their aspirations, and also because I think it’s important to give back - lots of people were instrumental in helping me to learn about myself and the organisation.” “I worked in Rowena’s team for 18 months and observed first-hand how she successfully led in a male-dominated area. I knew I could learn a lot from her, so I approached her to be my mentor.” Mei, Senior Enterprise Architect “Rowena has a fantastic ability to listen, ask astute questions and provide thought-provoking insight, whilst at the same time leaving you feeling the accountability and ownership for your own development. She is first-rate at coaching and has helped to draw things out of me that I hadn’t considered previously.” Claire, Head of Sales and Service Simplification Her background also allows her to see things others couldn’t in this space: “Having been on the journey myself I can help individuals make the jump,” She explains. “There can sometimes be a tendency for females to think they’re not quite good enough, or we’ll have a lack of self-belief. Sometimes the women I mentor will even ‘catastrophise’ their minor failures.” “I found Rowena’s help invaluable when I returned from Mat Leave after my 2nd baby. I only took a 4-month maternity leave, and the number of comments I had about only choosing to take “5 minutes off” made me feel like I couldn’t tell people that I was actually finding balancing the lack of sleep from a baby who fed 3 times a night with work pretty tough.” Lara, Head of Treasury Modelling Considering a STEM career? Here's Rowena’s advice: 1. Be more open-minded and curious. Behind the big banners, e.g: ‘financial services’, there’s actually an enormous variety of creative and logical IT careers that aren’t ‘geeky’. 2. If you’re unsure what to do after school or University, follow your passion. Looking back I wouldn’t change my degree to do a typically ‘STEM’ degree. You can still secure a STEM career even without being certain you’ll end up there. Geography was good as it was a broad mix of analysis, creativity and logic.” 3. Good qualifications can open up a world of opportunities. Hiring managers shouldn’t only look for typical STEM careers. What’s important is the high-end logic that can be transferred into a role. 4. Take time to understand what it is you’re looking for in a career. I now know what the key attributes a role needs to offer to be right for me; I need to feel part of a team to share collaborative energy. There have been points during my career where I felt ‘I must be rubbish’ but that was before I learned that I wasn’t going to be good at every role, and some may not be a great fit for me. 5. Take some risks. Sometimes it can be healthy to step into a job where you don’t know it all, as it could lead to some of your biggest learnings: don’t be afraid of failure. “Since I have been seeing Rowena, I have really changed my approach. Rather than plan to do something in 5 years’ time, Rowena has helped me to understand that there is nothing stopping me from achieving those goals today – except my own limiting beliefs.” Lisa, Operational Performance Lead
Grant Thornton Select is a new way for ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualified accountants to work on stimulating projects on an interim or project basis whilst benefitting from the training, development and support of one of the UK’s top accountancy firms. With the help of 2to3days, the firm has recently launched the scheme to attract a large team of working mothers and others wishing to work on short to medium-term client projects whilst leaving time for family, school holidays or other commitments between assignments. The idea is the brainchild of Grant Thornton Director Emma Davies who leads this new network of interim accountants from the organisation’s Sheffield office. 2to3days’ Julie Kangisser caught up with her to find out more. How did the idea for Grant Thornton Select arise? Over the past six years, I’ve led a Special Projects team, sending our Grant Thornton team members into fascinating interim or project roles with clients. I’ve done these sorts of immersive stints in the past myself for a number of companies including General Electric and a fast-growth business looking to restructure its in-house finance team. These briefs always arise out of change, transition or growth. In today’s rapidly changing business world we are increasingly asked to provide interim support. But Grant Thornton does not have enough people in the Special Projects core team to proactively seek out this work and that’s where Grant Thornton Select comes in. I’m proud that we’re the first professional services firm in the UK to develop this innovative and flexible model. I’m passionate that mothers should have the same opportunities to do stimulating work as everybody else. As a working mother myself, I understand that on-off working holds huge appeal for many ambitious mothers looking to have both a fast-paced career and plenty of quality time with their children. The Grant Thornton Select scheme has been widely supported throughout the firm. Grant Thornton’s culture is set from the top by our inspirational CEO Sacha Romanovitch, herself a working mother of two, who is pioneering an inclusive and diverse workplace culture in a sector that is often regarded as behind the curve in this regard. This is reflected in our inclusion in the National Association for Female Executives’ Top Companies for Executive Women for four years running and in Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies for eleven consecutive years. The market is responding really positively to the lead we are taking. Tell us your own tips for flexible working in a fast-paced professional services firm? I fit work around my life and not the other way round. Many mothers think they have to pretend that they don’t have a family but I say “be yourself and bring your whole self to work”. I have to be very organised and also accept that I can’t do everything exactly as I did before having my son - but there are usually great alternatives. Gone are the days of networking drinks in the evening, but now I meet people for breakfast or over lunch and get the same if not better outcomes. I used to struggle to say no to anything but now I find that if you set reasonable boundaries people respect you for it. I’m also better at delegating than I used to be! Are there limits to the types of flexibility that can be accommodated? Meeting our clients’ business needs is paramount so it’s a case of what works well for them. Although any arrangement could be possible, I think that most of our clients would be comfortable with contractors working 4-day weeks and taking time off during school holidays as part of their annual leave plans. Short to medium term projects can allow our Select team members to earn good money for part of the year and then take several months off to pursue other priorities or take extended summer holidays, for example. Working school hours only is likely to be unfeasible for many clients, although many are flexible with start and finish times. Although I usually work more out of Grant Thornton’s offices rather than client-side on a day-to-day basis, a red line that I won’t cross is being able to drop off my son at school every morning and collect him from after-school club at 5.45. This pattern fits largely into a standard working day and, if needed, I am happy to pick up a few additional tasks in the evening. What makes a brilliant contract finance professional? Someone who thrives on variety and challenge and who is a self-starter. Whether acting alone or within a small Grant Thornton Select team, our interims need to rapidly understand their client’s business and operating environment and how to get to an end goal quickly. Of course, they are doing this with all the support of Grant Thornton behind them. One of our newest Select members was struggling to fit a full-time Finance Director role around her family life but she is delighted to work intensely for several months and then take time off. Other members have taken career breaks to raise children and this is an ideal way for them to return to work and have the best of both worlds. What are the best things about hiring working mothers? It may surprise you, but one of the top assets working mothers bring is their good life perspective and their ability to recognise that there is more to life than work. I know from my own set-up that we need to be super-organised which means we naturally prioritise well and don’t waste time on unnecessary or inefficient work. What support will I receive as a member of Grant Thornton Select? We have done lots of research into the challenges of being a totally independent contractor and the top concerns were loneliness, the difficulty of finding work and the lack of career development support. That’s why community is at the core of Grant Thornton Select. Our interims and core staff team are encouraged to connect and share with each other, much as you do in the 2to3days community. We’re working on an internal social network to facilitate this knowledge transfer. Our interims will have access, at no cost, to a vast array of our CPD courses and soft-skills training as well as weekly check-ins with a colleague at Grant Thornton whilst out on assignment. We’re also organising monthly social events such as drinks or lunches to eliminate the isolation factor of contracting. The support we offer to all our staff, including the Select team, fits into our wider company purpose of shaping a vibrant economy by connecting people so that people and places can thrive. Have you met any resistance to the idea from clients? Quite the reverse. So long as they are getting the right person, clients don’t get hung up on whether that person has other facets to their life outside of work. It actually makes them more ‘normal’ and appealing as a colleague. They also know that they are getting more experienced people than they might otherwise attract directly. To embark on interim work, most of the Grant Thornton Select team have amassed years of experience and a degree of financial security. In addition, clients know that all Grant Thornton Select staff have been through a rigorous application process and benefit from ongoing support and quality control from Grant Thornton.
Have you recently returned to work, or are you planning to soon? Does the prospect of continuing in the same career you had before the kids came along fill you with joy or trepidation? Whilst many mothers relish the chance to jump back onto the same career track, perhaps you’re considering your options. What do you do if your old career isn’t entirely compatible with family commitments – such as hours that don’t work around childcare? Or, if you’ve been out of the market for a while perhaps the business or technological landscape makes the prospect of returning to your old profession either daunting or unappealing. Necessity is the mother of reinvention Working out what to do next can feel tricky. To help you Corinne Mills, a highly experienced career coach, has put together five ways to navigate this and get the right career for you. What needs to change? It was Einstein who supposedly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It's important to think carefully about what you want to be different in the future, otherwise, there is a danger that you could replicate your situation. Make a list of your priorities, including practical considerations, such as pay and commute time, the type of work you want to focus on and the environment. Which are non-negotiable and which could you compromise on? Have this list to hand as you look at jobs. Think about whether a complete career change is needed. Sometimes this process can remind you of the things you like about your current job, so it may be worth exploring whether you can improve things where you are, rather than moving on. Take a wide view of your options There are always more options available to you than you think. Ask people you know for their ideas about what they think could be a good fit for you. Look at different job profiles on the National Careers Service website, consult a career coach and browse LinkedIn to find people who work in the types of roles you are interested in, and see how they describe their job, and the career path they took to get there. When it comes to searching for jobs keep your search options broad – on 2to3days.com you can select up to 10 industry sectors and 5 departments to ensure you’re not missing out on the perfect role. Close the skills gaps Be realistic about the gaps that separate you from those who are already working in the roles you are interested in, and close as many of them as you can by acquiring the relevant skills, knowledge and any qualifications you need. Think about whether a lateral move within your organisation or voluntary work experience could also take you closer to where you want to be. It's also worth considering temporary work as another route into organisations you are interested in. Professional associations are also helpful for those who are new to the field. Many offer training, speaker events and publications to keep you up to date with industry issues and encourage networking. Focus on your transferable skills A functional CV format, where you use the first page to highlight relevant skills and experience drawn from your entire career history, tends to work better for career changers as they enable you to focus on your transferable skills. This is useful for any prospective employers that are wary about career changers. Luckily, employers on 2to3days are open to all sorts of career paths, that’s why they’re drawn to the site. Avoid getting into lengthy personal justifications for your career change as these often raise more questions for the employer than they answer. Instead, position your career to date as one of natural progression as you discovered more about the things you were good at and enjoyed. Stand out from the crowd Typically, jobs advertised on 2to3days.com attract on average 12 applications but it can be as high as 50+, including some who may be a more obvious fit for the job than you. Stand out from the crowd by demonstrating that you are up to speed with the challenges and trends in the sector; how technology, impending regulation or even Brexit might impact on the role. Craft an original and enticing approach to a recruiter to avoid being put in the rejects pile with the other proforma cover letters. Whatever you do, don’t hold back from applying for jobs – you’ve got to be in it to win it. Worst case, the application and interview process will help you to refine your job search strategy. Best of luck. See what jobs are available on 2to3days now! Corinne Mills is Managing Director of Personal Career Management.
2018 has started with a flurry of new and returning recruiters joining us on our mission to help businesses thrive and to help working mothers fulfil their potential. Whilst companies busily swing into hiring mode there’s also a new year peak in candidates looking into career moves. Both of these trends can be bad news for business – there’s more competition out there for the best candidates and sifting high-calibre recruits from the mediocre masses is an excruciating task. The reason why 2to3days is here and thriving is that we have designed a new model which knocks many of these problems on the head by giving companies privileged access to a niche talent pool of skilled and professional jobseekers. Our thousands of talented working mothers looking for part-time work may be overlooked by traditional recruitment agencies or could have been dismissed as too hard to reach by hiring managers – that is until we arrived on the scene! In the two years since we set up we’ve found kindred spirits amongst hundreds of forward-thinking companies who are stealing a march on competitors by hiring experienced working mothers on reciprocally flexible terms. Together with Nationwide, Grant Thornton, Diageo and Hudson as well as the hundreds of smaller entrepreneurial companies like Mum & You and Black Sun, we are traversing the foothills of a radical recruitment revolution. 2to3days cares deeply about both businesses and the mothers in our community. Our economy, society and the next generation of impressionable minds are impoverished by the difficulty businesses have in connecting with, and filling roles from, our untapped demographic. We are a can-do community that detests those that whinge about the status quo. Our win-win model has been lovingly fashioned to help businesses better reflect real life through how and who they hire. Having a ready pool of candidates who aren’t tied to standard job patterns helps firms allocate the right skill and time required to do a job rather than trying to fit all roles into 5 day packages! Time and again businesses tell me four key reasons why the 2to3days service is needed more than ever. Meeting these business needs is why our community of businesses and mothers and the number of roles filled is growing at breathtaking speed: You want quality applicants not quantity. We have built a growing, niche community of 25,000 talented and experienced candidates so that typically our employers receive around 12 relevant applications from top notch people and usually tell us they’d be happy to hire several or all of them! A third of our community has Master’s degrees and over 4 in 5 have managerial experience. So you can say adios to ‘post and pray’ jobs boards that serve up quantity over quality. You worry that recruitment agencies’ commercial interests are not in line with your own. We don’t take a cut on your recruit’s salary which is why we have no vested interest in encouraging you to hire someone who’s less than perfect. The standard agency model has incentivised the placement of standard-fit applicants and withheld a wide pool of talent looking to break the five day mould (who also earn agents less commission). With us, you make the choice without being swamped with unsuitable candidates. You need to be cost-conscious. We never seek to make a fast buck but we’re also unapologetically commercial. So what’s our trick? We believe it takes a community to fill a role well and that’s where the magic of the ‘motherhood’ comes to the fore. This is truly novel when you consider that recruitment for key roles can be marred with secrecy. The motherhood is the digital, community-powered reinvention of the closed old boys’ network. Our community of mothers are bound by shared goals which leads them to proactively signpost colleagues and friends to jobs if they’re not right for themselves. Tapping into this immense goodwill and openness makes us effective and supremely cost-efficient. Approximately 70% of employers who advertise on our site hire one of our mothers and reaching our community costs only £295. You need a more diverse staff pool. If your business doesn’t reflect real life you’re less likely to understand and appeal to customers, prospective employees, clients, partners and other stakeholders. Harvard Business Review, amongst others, has published research to show that increased diversity within your business adds to your bottom line. The firms we work with are at the vanguard in overhauling Monday to Friday rigidity and presenteeism. Consciously stacking the odds against hiring someone who doesn’t fit the standard mould in today’s world is a hugely wasted opportunity, preventing employers from attracting highly capable, experienced working mothers. We don’t underestimate how tough it is to overcome over a century of ingrained work culture. Trusting staff to do a great job when they are working flexible hours, in evenings or from home requires an openness to doing business differently. However this trust delivers better results and committed colleagues. Almost every business leader seeks to manage outputs rather than inputs which is why they are joining our community in droves to enable them to fill bespoke roles or hire a portfolio of part-time specialists to meet their business needs with precision. The idea has been around for a while but they needed 2to3days to enable it. Trusting staff delivers better results. Tapping into an open and thoughtful community who will spread your job opportunities delivers better results. Adding diversity to your staff delivers better results. Families and society are better off too. Our community of employers and mothers will develop an increasingly loud voice which will make 2018 a game-changing year for recruiters. To learn more about advertising with us, click here.
Hudson, a global recruitment consultancy, is currently partnering with 2to3days to hire brilliant people to join its team of recruitment consultants in its Birmingham and London offices. So earlier this week, Juliet caught up with Stuart Packham, UK Board Director, who is driving this initiative, to find out why working for Hudson is a great career choice for people looking for a flexible and collaborative workplace that supports a healthy work-life balance. Why are you looking at the returning talent pool? We completely appreciate that people take time out of work for a wide variety of reasons; having a family is one reason, but people might also take time out to care for relatives or gain different life experiences. The ‘traditional’ career path is changing and having a wide mix of different work and life experiences has become highly sought-after. More often than not, returners to work have developed a rich assortment of life skills which are incredibly valuable to the business world, and more specifically, the recruitment industry. We want people with empathy, learning agility, and a desire to embrace change – and returners often have the attitude and approach we’re looking for, which could include returning mothers amongst your 2to3days network. In fact, over 54% of our workforce are women and a high percentage of these women are mothers, from the Executive down. What is Hudson’s vision? Hudson is going through a huge transformation, not only in terms of our products, services, and approach to the market, but also in how we work together internally. Globally, Hudson is made up of 2,500 people, and around 250 are based in the UK. Whilst we benefit from being part of a global team, we have integrated our innovative talent management expertise with our recruitment business, helping businesses navigate the whole new world of work by using our in-house tools and solutions. How is the recruitment market changing? Transactional recruitment is disappearing. Instead, we are moving towards a culture where an individual’s and a company’s true purpose will govern how they work and engage with people. Very soon, companies won’t advertise using a standard job description; instead the focus will switch to finding candidates with an ideal set of approaches or attitudes. Employers will list the projects that they want done and candidates will be asked to demonstrate how their ability, desire and life experiences make them the right fit for the role. Describe your company ethos and culture I don’t believe we have, or will ever have, one single culture; instead, we have a series of sub-cultures that come together to create an organisation connected by a shared purpose. But, generally speaking, we are an incredibly passionate and genuine bunch, and we like to consider ourselves innovative and entrepreneurial, with a high level of trust. If you have trust, you have an incredibly flexible culture. We’re not fans of micromanaging, and this is a very rare quality in the recruitment industry. Also, what is pertinent is that over 50% of the team at Hudson from the top down has some form of flexible working. How does Hudson support working mothers? The best way I can answer this question is to start by clearly stating that our aim is to create a working environment where everyone is able to customise their working pattern to achieve a greater balance. We believe the best way to support working mothers is not by singling them out. They don’t walk through the door on day one and get handed a T-shirt which says ‘I am a working mother – treat me differently’. We have a clear career structure in place that offers everyone the same opportunity to progress, develop and be rewarded – regardless of their working patterns. Only the other day, one of my colleagues, who is a mother, said to me – ‘I didn’t think I would be able to come back into the recruitment industry after just having a baby, and be able to do my job on a flexible basis; but I can at Hudson’. On a practical level, everyone has the IT support they need to work anywhere, so you don’t have to be pinned to your desk. A traditional recruitment company’s KPIs are linked to presenteeism; at Hudson we measure output, not time in the office, and we certainly won’t make you clock in and out every day. Tell us what makes a brilliant consultant? How much of that is background and experience versus personal traits or characteristics? Brilliant consultants are open-minded, embrace change, are customer focused and have a natural drive to work collaboratively both internally and externally across all functions and industry groups. The ones that truly shine have resilience – they don’t fall over as soon as someone says ‘no’, and they are prepared to make mistakes, pick themselves up and start again. As a father what’s the one piece of advice you would give your son or daughter in choosing their career? I believe that traditional career paths will no longer exist in a few years’ time. That’s why I always encourage my daughter to choose a career that enables them to have the opportunity to have a range of different experiences in life – not just the one. If you do something that you enjoy, your self-fulfilment and happiness will flow! For me, the most important thing is that my daughter has the confidence and opportunity to do something that she enjoys and finds rewarding. You can find out more about Hudson here.
2to3days are thrilled to announce that Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, has become our first 2to3days Featured Employer. They have pledged to advertise over 60 jobs to our members over the coming year. Katrina Hutchinson-O’Neill is in charge of all recruitment for Nationwide from entry level to senior professional opportunities. She is a mover and shaker in the world of FTSE 100 recruitment directors, so what she does at Nationwide has an impact on the wider corporate landscape. She gives her personal and professional motivations for partnering with 2to3days and offers some insightful tips to mothers applying for part-time roles: Smart businesses need to keep pace with people’s lives to attract talent To attract and retain the best talent and meet our business objectives Nationwide would be missing a trick to overlook working mums. We’re going one step further and are actively seeking out applications from mothers that want to work 2 to3 days per week, or another flexible arrangement. Flexible working is our benefit; not the employee’s problem Too many employers have regarded the provision of flexible working as a major concession that requires their staff to bend over backwards or incur penalties if arrangements don’t work out. This is particularly true for job shares where some employers place the onus on employees to find or replace job share partners. This is a cop out as it makes flexible working the problem of the person doing the job. I have a 3 day a week worker on my own team. who pursues both professional and personal interests on their days off which, on the face of it, may bear little resemblance to their ‘day job’. However, I am routinely amazed at the freshness and passion they bring to the team in their three days and the number of times they have been able to add amazing additional value to my team and to our company as a result of the additional skills this arrangement helps them bring to the table. Every mother should help another That flexible working is still not part of the working norm is bewildering. According to research that Nationwide commissioned of over 2,000 UK working adults in September 2017, nearly two thirds (64%) said they never even get an opportunity to work from home. We all need to call time on this restriction on talent, and female employers could be at the vanguard of hiring more staff with parenting responsibilities. The needs of other groups including men who are primary child carers, are equally important but as mums are undoubtedly the largest group excluded from the job market by lack of flexible opportunities, working with 2to3daysto hire more mums is an ideal place for Nationwide to start. Whilst all employers are duty bound to consider flexible working requests from existing employees, my personal mission is to make this standard practice for businesses hiring new staff. My tips for 2to3days members applying for jobs at Nationwide and elsewhere Be open and honest about what your requirements are and where you are able to offer some flexibility in return. But this doesn’t mean you need to overcompensate - a fine line to tread. Show a genuine interest in the role not the hours - we can sniff out an applicant who is more interested in the working pattern than the role they have applied for. Look out for results-driven culture – if you get to interview, ask how your performance will be measured. If your team measures inputs, this indicates a clock-watching culture or ‘presenteesim’ which won’t suit a flexible worker. Of particular relevance to mid to senior level roles, try to seek out outcome-based management styles. Establish whether your boss has previous experience of employing flexible workers. If you’re the test bed you may be in for a rockier ride, although a good employer should be able to provide reassurance. Every mother is different On a personal level, I have felt discriminated against in the past by bosses who have made assumptions about what I’d be prepared to do after having children. I’m the first to recognise that every individual has different needs, in and out of work. Every parent returning to work has a different set up, they may be a single mother or in a relationship with someone who is the primary childcarer. I have three small children, and a very supportive husband who also works full time and who takes charge of the kids during the week because my home is 415 miles away from my main office location! Whilst my current work-life arrangements are far from typical, Nationwide has enabled me to be successful in both home and work lives. But even with an incredibly supportive employer, holding down a senior level role and juggling kids, travel, two cats, three rabbits and a goldfish is always going to need a bit of organisation and planning! As the person responsible for attracting top talent into the Society, working with 2to3days is helping me to help working mothers and a growing number of firms are following suit. Katrina Hutchinson- O’Neill is Director of Resourcing at the Nationwide Building Society, a 2to3days Featured Employer.