EY Reconnect, a programme helping employees return to the workplace, is taking a flexible approach to hiring and retaining talent.
EY’s “returnship” programme, EY Reconnect, is an example of how the firm are opening up access to the profession and attracting a diverse and agile workforce. Reconnect supports professionals who have had a career break of up to 10 years, to come back into the world of work. Candidates may have taken some time out of their career to study, travel, or care for children or relatives.
The firm are now inviting applications for the second year of the programme, which is planned to have an intake in January 2018. It’s a paid opportunity for would-be returners, offering them the chance to spend 12 weeks working on live projects within one of EY’s client-facing teams.
A flexible approach and agile working
Rachel, one of EY’s managers in the actuarial business based in London says: “I get the best of both worlds. Two days a week, I spend time with my daughter and the other three days I get to do a job that I genuinely enjoy. Both of these roles are rewarding in their own ways, and I feel really lucky to be part of a team that actively encourages flexible working and provides the support required to make it work.”
This was reinforced by Nicola, one of EY’s senior actuarial managers in Bristol, who says: “EY has provided me with the support and opportunities to juggle work with family. Working for a consultancy often involves project-based work, which can fit well with a part-time role. The hours I work are flexible, rather than the traditional nine to five, which helps me to manage work and family commitments.”
“I am so encouraged to see how a programme like EY Reconnect offers a bridge back into the profession after taking a career break. Past participants have easily reconnected with their skills while our business and our clients have appreciated the wealth of experience the individuals bring.”
Says James Tufts, UK actuarial leader EMEIA FSO
A creative attitude to designing permanent roles
The creative approach to matching people and positions continues after the programme concludes, as Kemi Lawson found. She also took part in Reconnect’s debut programme, having taken a five-year career break. As she explains:
“Reconnect felt tailor-made for me. During my career break, the financial world had changed a great deal – there were so many new regulations for instance. The 12-week programme gave me a brilliant opportunity to catch up with the changes, boost my confidence, and get back into the workplace.”
And when the 12 weeks were up, Kemi was offered a permanent role with the firm on an annualised contract, which are becoming more common as a flexible work pattern.
“I was fired up by the Reconnect experience and ready to focus on my career, but I also knew I wanted to be able to spend more than just weekends with my family. As my role is largely transactional, a traditional part-time arrangement wasn’t going to work. So EY suggested I consider an annualised contract – and it’s the perfect solution, both for the business and for me.”
Marguerite, another of EY’s actuarial managers in London agrees: “EY’s flexible environment means I am able to achieve a good balance between work, parenting, looking after my own wellbeing and at the same time completing my MBA.”
Flexibility that works both ways
Matthew, an actuarial director in London says that flexibility works best when it works both ways. As he explains: “EY has always offered me the opportunity to work flexibly, both with respect to location and hours. With the birth of my son, I extended my flexible working arrangement and moved to a four-day week, with one of those days being from home. This means I get a day a week with my son as well as being available to do ‘the nursery run’ one day a week. While the transition has required some more planning on my part, I’ve found it remarkably straightforward – to the extent that when asking teams for feedback for the first ‘year-end’ many said they hadn’t noticed any difference.
“Other than for a handful of emergencies, my non-working days have been exactly that, and I’ve found my new arrangements very satisfying and enjoyable; “good for the soul” as one of my colleagues said. Talking to my peers in the market, it think it would be hard to find a similar role in industry that offered similar flexibility.”
The difference a supportive culture makes
Those who have taken part in EY Reconnect also agree that the support networks provided by the programme are an important factor in its success. As Kemi says: “The culture of the firm and the team I work in is very positive about encouraging greater diversity and flexibility – they really wanted to make my arrangement work.
“I made it clear at the start that I wanted to progress and I’ve been inspired and mentored by some senior female role models; I also know I’m setting a great example to others. Having had a career break, I don’t take work for granted – I’m determined to do well and progress as much as I can.”
A worthwhile investment for everyone involved
By taking a flexible approach, EY has created a route back into the workplace for driven, ambitious people via EY Reconnect.
Jane Goldsmith, talent partner for the firm’s Financial Services business, explains: “The feedback from our EY Reconnect pilot programme has been really positive, both from participants and the business. It’s helped us tap into a talent pool of highly experienced individuals.”
To apply for this year’s programme visit the EY Reconnect website.