Are you considering a career in public practice?

While some people can be quick to write it off because of its reputation for long hours and strict work regimes, times are changing. 

We all know the benefits of flexible working. It allows us to achieve a better work-life balance and spend more time enjoying our lives outside the office while still pursuing a career. 

Many people are already enjoying these benefits with 87% of full-time employees in the UK, across all industries, either currently working flexible hours or would like to do so. 

A large proportion of CA firms already have flexible working schedules in place and many others are looking to follow suit.

Ways of Flexible Working in Public Practice

How flexible working is structured varies from firm to firm, but some of the most common themes we see are: 

  • A large number of firms including Big 4, Mid-Tier and small CA firms provide entirely flexible working hours, so you can choose your hours between 8 am - 6 pm allowing you to have a schedule that suits your personal lifestyle. So whether you want to make that gym class, work around childcare, miss the rush hour traffic or simply enjoy the sunshine on a beautiful day, clients and candidates alike seem to like this option.
  • Some firms use a ‘dynamic working’ approach for each audit, which allows staff to identify when they can and can’t work long hours and still meet the deadlines. This gives you the flexibility to leave earlier should you need to and is a much more mature approach to work. 
  • Many companies offer and promote remote working and part-time schedules for employees of all levels. You might have more options to work from home all or some of the working week or work in an office with reduced working hour weeks. 
  • Another common benefit that many CA forms offer is the option to buy more holidays, increased holiday entitlement overall or time back in lieu after working overtime. While not everyone decides to take advantage of this option, it’s an added extra should you wish to take more annual leave.

Reasons Public Practice Employees Promote Flexible Working

Boost Employee Morale

No one likes working long hours and while some CA firms have realised the impact of this sometimes it is simply unavoidable as they are with most industries.

Some accountancy firms use innovative solutions such as annualised contracts to allow employees to take more time off during quieter periods; for example, providing two to three months paid time off work in addition to annual holiday allowances.

Most of the larger accountancy firms also complete regular utilisation reports so management/resourcing teams can see if anyone has consistently worked overtime and then provide extra support to help reduce those long hours.

Promote Diversity

Recent reports on the gender pay gap show that public practice firms, specifically the Big 4, have a far smaller GPG than banks, insurers and property companies. However, there’s still room for improvement with the Big 4 companies reporting between 14.2 to 22.1% GPG. 

Encouraging women to develop their careers and achieve top leadership positions is one of the best ways for any company to correct their gender pay gap. Supporting female employees, especially mothers, sometimes involves thinking outside the box and creating a family-friendly workplace that promotes flexible working.

One of the most common misconceptions is that flexible working is most apparent in Mid-Tier and small CA firms, however that is not the case. Over recent times we have seen a real push for flexible working across the large global accountancy firms which has been a real factor in candidate attraction.

One of the key focuses across the market is diversity and inclusion for example on of the Big 4 firm aims to have a 50-50 diverse male/female candidate shortlist when hiring for roles, across all levels.

Attract the Best & Brightest

Accountancy and finance organisations face one of the biggest skills shortage in the UK. Almost 60% of employers within the industry predict they will encounter challenges recruiting the right candidates this year. As we get closer to leaving the EU, this skills shortage will only become more difficult. 

Now consider the fact that 59% of accountancy professionals would turn down a new job opportunity that didn’t allow flexible working. This demonstrates the importance for employers to offer flexibility to position themselves as a top employer of choice.

Thankfully, CA firms understand the importance of flexible working and are looking at ways to better support their employees and attract new team members. 

Some Mid-Tier and independent CA firms make flexible working fun by providing additional days off like closing the office at Christmas, giving employees their birthdays off, moving house days and “duvet days” while others use shorter lunch breaks so employees can work four day weeks or finish early on Fridays.

The Future of Flexible Working in Public Practice

Of course there’s always room for improvement and the accountancy practice market still has a way to go before everyone is onboard. 

We believe that as time passes more companies will increasingly promote flexible working as market conditions and the benefits of this become more apparent.

Find Your Next Career Move with Change Recruitment

Here at Change Recruitment we’re firm supporters of flexible working and positive work environments.

We know and work with many fantastic, innovative and forward- thinking CA firms that offer flexible working and pride themselves on creating positive work environments. 

Our recruitment consultants are specialists at helping you find the best position to fast-forward your career while balancing personal commitments. This makes a career in public practice fulfilling both professionally and personally.

Speak to us today to learn how we can help.

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