EY, Finalist 2015, The Santander Best New Flexible Working Initiative

Professional Services firm EY recognised that introducing flexible working was more about a change in culture than a change in policy or legislation. For that reason EY engaged a Working Families Change Management and Optimal Performance specialist to design and deliver an internal  programme of behavioural and operation change. The change programme, designed to scale across the business through identified change agents and which impacted almost 10,000 employees in the UK, was built around the EY Vision to be leaders in Flexible Working in the professional services sector.

At the heart of the change EY had identified six key behaviours (which included trust, focus on outputs, embrace diversity) that underpin successful flexible working for them. Whilst EY placed an ambitious time line against realising the initial benefits for this change they also fully recognised that this cultural change so vital to the future success of the organisations growth and advantage in the recruitment market was no overnight shift but would take time to implement well. Working Families supported not only the initial change piece but has remained a partner throughout the ensuing years to refine and embed the new ways of working.

The business case identified potential benefits in terms of:

  • improved employee engagement
  • improved productivity
  • improved staff retention
  • improved staff attraction
  • real estate optimisation
  • reduced travel between offices

EY’s change programme was robust, structured and well sponsored which contributed to its success. Early buy in from leadership helped the programme gather momentum; each of the service line leaders became role models for the change. In fact EY established 25 diverse role models at all levels of the organisation and published their stories on its internal Flexible Working Portal to help others identify a role model they could relate to. EY also established a network of ‘change agents’ throughout the business. These change agents were given specific training, developed in partnership with Working families, in behavioural and operational change management, the six key behaviours and tools and templates to enable them to run workshops with their local teams. EY also introduced a mandatory 45-minute online training course for all staff based around the six key behaviours. In terms of success, EY estimates that it has already achieved benefits of at least £15 million per annum. Measuring adoption is equally important. For that, EY has developed a Flexible Working Healthcheck based around a straightforward 10-minute survey sent to all staff. The results of the December 2014 Flexible Working Healthcheck were very positive and confirmed the change has been adopted and sustained some 12 months after completion of the change programme.