After 5 Years of Flexible work, PwC Shares Lessons Learned so Far

After 5 Years of Flexible work, PwC Shares Lessons Learned so Far
From Recruiter - December 21, 2016

As the flexible work experts at FlexJobs point out, companies that allow their employees to work flexibly reap the rewards of increased productivity, lower stress levels, healthier employees, and more engaged workforces, among other net positives. Couple this with the fact that millennials, who make up the largest generation in the workforce, have a particular thirst for flexibility at work, and its no wonder that more and more companies have started adopting flexible work policies.

Professional services giant PwC has been at the forefront of flex for a few years now,and this year the company is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its formal flexible work policy. While PwC todayviewsflexible workas a critical policy worth celebrating, it wasnt always that way.

I can work from anywhere, and many of our people can frequently work from anywhere, says Anne Donovan, PwCs people innovation leader. I think in the old days, I used to hide that. I didnt think it was important for anyone to know where I was. I knew I could do my job from anywhere, and I just sort of kept that under the radar.

Donovan jokingly refers to PwCs flex policy in those days as closet flexibilitypeople had flexible work options, but no one really talked about.

Now, I have gotten leaders to talk about it; I have gotten PwC to talk about it, Donovan says. I do think we can do it more, and the more we do it, the more permission it gives to others to do it. It opens the floodgates.

Today, flexible work is a brand-defining aspect of PwCs businessand culture, according to Donovan. In fact, when she and I spoke, she had just finished wrapping up acompany-coordinated Snapchat shoot meant toshine a light on her own flexible work lifestyle. (I wore my best pajamasbut I was still in my pajamas, Donovan says of the session with a laugh.)

Rod Adams, U.S. recruitment leader at PwC, agrees with Donovan that flexible work is good for PwCs employer brand.

Flexibility allows us to create a positive work experience for our people, Adams says. Teams work together to come up with what works best for themeven during busy seasons. We continually celebrate flexibility and hold one another accountable to have discussions and stick to agreed-upon flexibility plans, making adjustments along the way as needed.

Flexible work now plays a starring role in PwCs recruitment efforts, too.

We share stories of how teams and individuals work flexiblyfocusing on how its not a one-size-fits-all concept, Adams says. It enables us to talk to our candidates about how at PwC, were encouraged to share with each other whats important to us and to speak up about our needs without the guilt. Family commitments or personal interests dont need to take a back seat to having a successful career.

All of our competitors are talking about flexibility at this point, but from a brand perspective, weve been at it for five years, Donovan adds. We really have changed the culture. Where we might have not been able to spell flexibility five or six years ago, we are absolutely known for it now and talk about in our interviews the kind of flexibility you can have.

Want to take a page from PwCs playbook and make flexible work a core component of your organization and your recruiting strategy? Here are the five lessons PwC has learned about flexibility over the years:

1. Flexibility Is Different forEveryone

Donovan doesnt refer to PwCs flexible work arrangements as a program because flexibility is different for everyone, and any successful flexible work policy will need to account for this fact.

When we started talking about flex and pushing it out to PwC workers, we didnt try to put any parameters around it, Donovan says. Its up to our own people to make it work.

2. Empower Your Teams to Make Flexible Work Decisions for Themselves

By up to our own people to make it work, Donovan doesnt mean PwC is a free-for-all. Rather, she means that the organization eschews a top-down approach in favor of team-based forms of flexibility. Before the start of a project, each team creates a flexibility plan that meets the needs of individual team members while ensuring the project is completed on time and with high quality.

Its a back-of-the-napkin kind of thing, nothing formal, Donovan says. Those people together know what they need to accomplish, and they can figure out what everybody needs to be happy. They make it work for each other.

While Donovan notesit doesnt work 100 percent of the time, she says that it does work the vast majority of the time.

Were not perfect, but we are lightyears ahead of where we were five years ago, she says.


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