PwC to allow new staff to choose the hours they work

05 September 2018 4 min. read

PwC’s UK wing has launched a landmark scheme, which will allow a number of the firm’s new staff to choose the hours of the day in which they work. The Big Four member hopes that the added flexibility will boost its attempt to court top talent, amid a tightening human resources market.

Following years of high unemployment rates resulting from the 2008 financial crisis, recent figures show that, across the G7, headline employment figures have reached heights last seen in the 1970s. The increase in employment levels, is starting to affect hiring, with companies increasingly finding it difficult to attract and retain talent.

Big Four firm PwC has long been on the front-foot when it comes to finding new ways to attract talent to the firm. With the consulting market in the UK becoming ever more crowded with agile new competitors, all players in the sector have been faced with an uphill struggle to gain and retain new staff, with those failing to take the initiative being left behind.

To that end, PwC had previously made a concerted push to appear to be making headway on the matter of gender equality at the firm. Last year, well in advance of new guidelines that would make it compulsory, PwC published its gender pay gap data – motivated in part by the hope that by taking a proactive stance on the matter it could better attract female graduates in particular.

PwC to allow new staff to choose the hours they work

One thing the data did highlight was that women in the upper echelons of the audit and advisory giant were sparse, something which contributed a great deal to the disparity between men and women’s pay at the company. Now, as the firm bids to diversify its staff, an enable progression of workers from different walks of life, PwC has announced the launch of a new flexible working scheme, which will allow some of its recruits to choose the hours they want to work.

The Flexible Talent Network will allows people to list their skills and preferred work pattern when they apply, and PwC says the aim is to attract skilled people who don't want to be tied to traditional 9-5 hours. One thing that such flexibility would hypothetically allow for is parents to fit familial duties into their schedule alongside work better – something which a recent survey by YouGov found meant just 6% of British workers still want to keep to the 9-5 pattern.

Flexible working patterns can include anything from shorter weekly working hours, to only working for a few months a year. PwC, which will match recruits to relevant projects rather than specific roles, hopes the move will give more diverse talent a route into the firm, and the firm told the UK press that it decided to embrace the gig economy after a study it carried out showed that almost 46% of 2,000 respondents prioritised flexible working hours and a good work-life balance the most when choosing a job. So far, more than 2,000 people have registered with the new network in the two weeks since the initiative was launched.

Commenting on the initiative, PwC's Chief People Officer, Laura Hinton, said, "People assume that to work at a big firm they need to follow traditional working patterns – we want to make it clear that this isn't the case. In order to recruit the best people, we recognise that we need to offer greater flexibility, different working options and a route back in for those looking to restart their careers."

Alongside the flagship flexible working scheme, PwC is also recruiting for its six-month paid senior internship programme Back to Business, which is designed to help senior professionals to restart their career after an extended break. Again, while it is not solely focused on gender, this too feeds into PwC’s efforts to improve its gender figures, by helping women who may have taken career breaks to have children back into work with the firm.

Hinton added that PwC believes offering flexible working was not only good for staff, but also good for business, the economy and ultimately society. She concluded, "We're likely to see a rise in people transitioning in and out of work throughout their careers and those organisations who responsibly support their people to do this will ultimately gain a competitive advantage.”