Interview with Emma Cleary, founder of Flexibility Matters
In 2014, we interviewed Emma Cleary as she set up Ten2Two Sussex. Five years on, she’s now set up her own recruitment business – Flexibility Matters.
Emma tells us why she believes that flexible working is important for everyone – not just mothers – and how she’s helping companies and candidates embrace the benefits of it.
What’s changed since we last interviewed you in 2014?
So much! Flexible working is the talk of the town. Companies are really beginning to embrace it as part of their culture and unique positioning to attract great people.
However, with all great things, the difficulty is to translate the talk into action. Senior management teams and CEOs want their companies to be seen as cultural destinations and flexible working is a definite draw for talent.
The first step is to convert CEOs – not always that difficult, they see the benefits, more tricky is to get middle management on board. If we can persuade enlightened middle management to recruit flexibly, we can then help train and implement flexible working in teams with a hand’s on toolkit to make it work.
And in the meantime, we’ll keep chatting up senior management teams about the benefits, productivity, and profitability of flexible workers.
What is Flexibility Matters and why did you decide to launch it?
Flexibility Matters is a recruiter dedicated to finding professionals flexible work – full time with flex to part-time flexible roles in all different shapes and sizes.depending on the needs of the client/business and the candidate.
It is very much a collaborative approach and now that we have our ten points best practice plan on implementation of flexible working it defines us as a recruiter with a difference. I can send this to you – we have one more round table discussion in October and then it will be ready to publish.
Also particularly with Brighton, Crawley and Croydon in mind, there is a distinct skills shortage, different needs in each city. What I am encouraging clients to consider, when I promote flexible working, is the talents and skills may be attracted if they consider employing more flexibly.
Flexibility should be the norm for all, not the extraordinary offering to a favoured few. This is why we called the company Flexibility Matters – obviously for the play on words, but more importantly because other flexible working companies are very much focussed on the mother population.
Instead, we are focussed on anyone who needs some degree of flexibility and balance in their lives – whatever the reason. This is not flexibility because you have kids! This is flex for all!
How do you help businesses?
I have been in working in the region for six years now and throughout my career have always been in account management and business development, meaning that I prioritise relationships with clients and their businesses.
I have gained trusted and loyal business friends and colleagues all over Sussex and more so now reaching out to Croydon and South London.
And how do you help candidates?
Candidates come to us at all stages of their careers. Many are ready for their next challenge, changing jobs, full of self-confidence and self-belief. These candidates we get to know and maybe work with a number of times in their career progression.
These candidates are easiest to place because they know what they want and are fully aware of their strengths. More challenging are the candidates who have been out of work for a long time, made redundant or are going in a completely new direction. We offer them mentoring and support, workshops and CV clinics and most importantly a friendly ear so that they are not tackling their new adventure alone.
It’s what sets us apart from other recruiters. We really care and we really listen.
What have you learned about flexible working in the past five years?
That there are very few roles that cannot be worked flexibly. It is down to the appetite of the company who really wants to change their culture and move with the times to get the best possible talent engaged and then to retain them.
It is becoming a real USP for companies to recruit flexibly and be seen as the place to work in an increasingly competitive market.
What advice do you have for businesses who want to implement it, but don’t know how?
Talk to us, we can help them recruit, train and design a whole range of roles for a really inspirational 21st century workplace.
And to mothers looking for a flexible role?
We want to talk to parents, not just mums. We want more mature candidates, millennials, university leavers, freelancers, basically anyone who wants to create a balance in their work and life and we will endeavour to find them a flexible role.
As flexible working becomes more ‘normal’ we can recruit to more and more positions. The CIPD and the Taskforce on Flexible Working and most importantly the campaigns by MP’s, bloggers and social media influencers really do help the cause and bring flexible working into the public domain.