Expert: Sanna Jordannson Facilitator: Svenja Keller
- Not having a hybrid working strategy hinders recruitment and makes it difficult to attract talent
- We need to continue to be led by what the client wants and needs
- It is important to ask staff for their opinion when building a hybrid strategy
- There is not one solution for everyone. Many firms are also still experimenting and adjusting their policies as we are all still adjusting to a new way of working
- We need to find new ways of nurturing our company culture
Those advisers that are recruiting have found that prospective employees are actively asking for hybrid working. However, any hybrid agreements with new employees also need to be aligned with working policies for existing employees, to ensure fairness. Advisers that are actively recruiting feel that it is not a question of whether to have a hybrid working policy, but more how to define and implement it.
There was consensus in the room about the need for continued client-centricity. Some clients enjoy face-to-face meetings and others prefer the convenience of virtual meetings. Advice firms have to be able to cater for this and hybrid working policies need to be flexible enough to ensure continued focus on the client. Whilst it is important to cater for what staff wants, the expectation on staff to put the client first needs to remain in place. In addition, the adviser offering can be adapted in accordance with client segmentation. Some advisers will only offer virtual meetings for smaller clients.
Opinions on hybrid working vary widely and it is therefore hugely important to ask employees what does and doesn’t work for them, when it comes to working from home or in the office, or a combination of the two. It is particularly important to have non-judgemental, open conversations without making any assumptions.
There was a clear difference in approach, depending on whether staff had long or short commutes to the office. However, it will also depend on individual circumstances, job roles, and personalities. Listening to staff does not mean they will dictate the entire policy – as the employer, it is important to set out clear expectations too and these will include expectations on putting the client first.
Different advice firms in the room had different approaches to hybrid working, with some firms having returned to the office completely, while others are embracing more work from home as well as models in between. It was clear that there is not one solution for every firm as it depends on their set up, size, types of clients, location and many other factors.
Some advisers have struggled with virtual meetings, in particular when it comes to building relationships with new employees that have joined since the pandemic started. There was consensus in the room that culture is very important for the smooth running of a business, but there was also a sense that we need to find new ways of nurturing and defining the culture.
Embracing technology and making the most of it was discussed in detail – for example, inductions and training can be recorded and offered to every new joiner, social events can be conducted virtually and therefore become more inclusive for those employees that wouldn’t be able to make a social outing in the evening. Advisers were open to new ideas and acknowledged that we are still learning and experimenting at the moment.
- Be deliberate and intentional when putting your hybrid policy in place – whilst every firm will have a slightly different approach in accordance with their clients’ needs and preferences, what is important is to have a well thought out strategy and to clearly communicate the new policy
- In order to provide the flexibility employees want, employers must clearly articulate their expectations to staff and clearly define how they will measure these; employees can then have flexibility to deliver these outcomes
- We all need to be open to innovation and new ways of working – it is difficult to step away from what we have been used to doing for years but we have been through a period of forced change and this can be a great moment to embrace a new, better way for everyone
- We are all still learning and adapting. So, we need to take our time and have the courage to continue experimenting and striving for improvements to life and work for everyone