Flexible working: Banks get bendy

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Investment banks aren't best known as cuddly employers. But when it comes to flexible working arrangements, even high-powered financiers are getting more leeway these days.

Take UBS for example, which offers its employees a whole range of flexible alternatives, from the ability to work from home on some days, to staggered hour arrangements, job sharing, and part-time options.

Mike Davies, UBS's head of human resources, says workers at all levels are entitled to apply for flexible working arrangements.

"It works very well overall. Some areas are a bit harder to have flexible work arrangements, but we do employ responsible people and they are always keen to make sure they can get their work done. It's all about creating a work environment that facilitates a good work and lifestyle balance," he says.

Westpac recently said that its research found that having flexibility over working hours was a primary concern for its employees and candidates, regardless of their age.

Lorraine Ryan, principal consultant, banking and finance, for recruitment firm Chandler Heath, says that these days a bank can't afford to be inflexible with their employees.

"They have to be in order to retain staff. You'll find the people that have been there for a while will certainly be looked after. With the candidate-short market that's here in Australia, it's in their interests to look after the performers."

Don't expect to set up a home office in the middle of the Bush though. Ryan says there's always a trade-off: "At the end of the day the banks must be flexible, but they still have to service the needs of their clients."

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