Expert: David Jones, Head of UK & Ireland Advisor Group and Vice President and Steven Greenfield, Regional Director & Vice President. Facilitator: Martyn Laverick Divisional Director M&A, Paul Harper Search and Selection
- The ‘new’ workplace is still evolving
- Has there been a power shift from employer to employee
- Recruitment has been hard but there are new opportunities today
- Workforce shape changing = roles and skills changing
- Challenges around managing a hybrid workforce
The ‘new’ workplace is still evolving
From the debate that was had it was clear that businesses are on a journey to establishing what is the best model for their business. In the majority of cases, not all, it would not be returning back to the way it was. Some firms’ geographic location has meant that all staff have returned back to the offices, but these are the minority. Firms expressed that staff have started to return to the offices and in most cases, they are trialling a number of days in the office and a number of days WFH. There are not set days and if staff wish to be officed based for 5 days they can. In order to try to assist staff not feeling isolated some firms have been allocating set days for people to be in the office. It was recognised that these are the first steps out of the last 18 months and all firms expect this to be an evolving process over the coming 12/18 months and are prepared to refine the current model.
Has there been a powershift from employer to employee?
A lot has been said about staff leaving with no job to go to if they don’t like the way of working. In the main this was not a recognised fact with the attendees but there was an acceptance that their offering must be current and flexible to attract and retain the right type of person. It was felt that staff needed to understand the business needs rather than just their own needs. However, there were good examples where these two were bought together via staff surveys and feedback so that the business could understand what their staff valued the most and could also explain why certain things could not happen and why. Trust was mentioned several times in a positive way, and this is something that firms are building on. Staff had greater levels of trust in the business due to the way it handled Covid and businesses have learned to trust staff as in the majority of cases production during lockdown went up. In addition, it was understood that in many cases staff were not shirking from home but actually working more hours.
So instead of a powershift from employer to employee it feels that it is more of a collaborative approach.
Recruitment has been hard but there are new opportunities today
It is felt that we are in a very competitive marketplace for talent with firms struggling to find quality people as easily as they did pre Covid and because of this their existing staff are being approached on a regular basis. There were good examples of firms that had recruited remotely and are still doing so. It has meant a review of recruitment processes and how you make a new individual feel as part of the team if they have never actually met anyone face to face from the business. It has also widened the scope of recruits. If the business has a flexible working policy, they have been able to recruit individuals from outside of their traditional catchment area. This has given them access to a greater number of individuals and in certain cases has seen a reduction in the salary needed to be paid due to the location of the individual.
Workforce shape changing = roles and skills changing
Given the view that firms have just started their journey on the new workplace model recruitment needs to take this into account. Recruiting individuals with the skill sets that will be required in the workforce of the future will be key. The products and services that customers are offered may be similar but the way in which they are delivered could be different. Zoom and Teams were not that common 18 months ago but now are mainstream. In certain cases, this led to individuals leaving as they could not adapt and/or did not enjoy this way of dealing with clients. Greater use of technology by all members of staff is now a prerequisite and this will only increase.
Challenges around managing a hybrid workforce
All firms discussed the welfare of their staff and voiced concerns how to be able to monitor and manage this going forward. Providing a secure working environment, whether it be office based or in the individuals home was considered important. Additional concerns were expressed about understanding how an individual is feeling, not just physically but mentally as well when you do not see them on a day-to-day basis. A further concern was around skill transference which was felt to be most effective when individuals had close contact with each other via an office environment. Monitoring staff will become more vital going forward and an effective HR/People function will be key to a business.