London: Clients are warming to more flexible working from their management consultants, the UK's Management Consultancies Association (MCA) says.
Flexible working has often been a challenge in management consultancy, where hours are driven by client demands, but an MCA report published today finds that this is changing — as the majority of consulting clients (82 per cent) say having flexible working as part of a management consultancy proposal would not have a negative impact on their buying decision.
The report, Consultants Working Flexibly, is based on research carried out by Research Now. It found that almost two thirds (65 per cent) of consultancy clients had already engaged a consulting team on a flexible basis, with only 2 per cent finding it a negative experience. Overwhelmingly, 85 per cent of clients felt that having the best consulting firm for the job was more important than their working hours.
Three quarters (76 per cent) also stated they would expect management consultancies to promote flexible working, as they change their own internal working practices, since they judge consultancies on the results of their work, rather than hours worked.
Alan Leaman, Chief Executive of the MCA said, "Our research has found that consulting clients are willing to embrace more flexible working practices from their consultants — focusing on the results they achieve rather than the hours that they work. This comes at a good time, as firms across the industry are offering their consultants more job flexibility to provide a better work-life balance and to encourage the recruitment and retention of top talent."
A career in management consulting continues to be a very popular choice for graduates with many consulting firms ranked in Universum's annual list of the 50 most desired employers. MCA research in 2011 found high levels of job satisfaction and commitment amongst younger management consultants. However, the same MCA research also found that poor work-life balance was the main reason cited by those who were considering leaving the industry in the next five years.
Consulting clients said that the biggest challenge of consultants working flexibly was managing them and their availability. However, those who had previously worked part time or reduced hours themselves said they thought communication rather than availability would be a challenge.
Alan Leaman continued, "To help clients feel more confident about engaging consulting teams who work more flexibly, firms need to demonstrate their experience of managing flexible arrangements, and how they have overcome the perceived problems of communication and availability."
"As an industry which prides itself on the ability to refine, evolve, analyse and aid clients to implement new ideas, it has recognised the need to offer its talent the same benefits of flexible working as their peers on alternative career paths."