Written by
Matt Singer

Published
09 Oct 2015

Focus on flexibility

09 Oct 2015 • by Matt Singer

Organisations need to adapt quickly

In the UK alone, research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that in this year’s march-to-may quarter, there were 265,000 more people in work than a year ago. Indeed, there are an estimated 700,000 vacancies for work across the country, showing that there is an improving demand for labour.

This points to one thing, the job market is no longer employer-centric and has instead become an employee friendly environment. With this shift, if companies are to thrive and grow, they must change their approach to talent attraction and management.

Meeting with millennials

Alongside the changing employment landscape, the workforce has seen the entrance of a new generation. Millennials, categorised as those born in the mid-80s to early-2000s, are, by all intents and purposes, the first group to be raised during the age of the internet.

Compared to the baby boomers, the preceding generation, millennials have a very different outlook on life. There is a danger in generalising huge swathes of people, but there are some key themes that run throughout these groups. Following the aftermath of second world war, people faced rationing and the cutting back of public services to try and correct the economy.

This led to the baby boomers having a strong monetary and material focus, causing the generation to value remuneration incredibly highly. On the other hand, millennials grew up with the internet. They were raised and imbibed with the values of the technology.

Exposure to vast amounts of media and information, mainly for free, and the ability to connect and communicate with anyone across the globe gave them a different psychological make-up. Instead of focusing on material gains, they are more interested in living their lives by their own terms, specifically when it comes to work.

Finding flexibility

Listening to the desires of the workforce, on the 30th June 2014 the UK Government passed a law that allowed anyone, permanently employed for six months or longer, the right to request flexible working. This was devised to improve productivity and working conditions for people across the country, but the question is, was it a success?

A year on, the signs are not particularly encouraging. Research conducted by Censuswide, on behalf of Unify, revealed that more than a third of Britons (37%) state that their companies still do not offer flexible working. This is despite 39% of people saying they would be more loyal to a business and 24% being more likely to recommend the company if they offered flexible working.

This is complemented by research from Jobvite’s Job Seeker 2015 report revealed that, although compensation has the biggest impact on jobs seekers’ decisions, 38% and 36% of people state that work/life balance and health benefits impact their decision to take a new job. In these categories, it is the younger generations that are motivated more by material gains.

Alongside this, Unify revealed that a third of managers and directors would happily leave their current workplace in favour of an employer who would offer flexible working. It also highlighted that nearly half of employees would choose flexible working over a pay raise.

The above points towards one thing, people desire flexible working.

Cutting to the cultural core

With the current job environment favourable to employees, millennials not solely motivated by money and a growing skills gap emerging, it is harder than ever to find that ‘right’ person. So how do you attract the best individuals to your business? The key is culture.

Flexible working itself can go some way to ensuring that you capture the best candidates. It gives the employee a sense that they are in charge of their own life, improving their relationship with a business, as well as taking steps to increase their productivity. Remember, a happy employee is a dynamic and productive one.

Still, this by itself will not be enough. With so many jobs and an emerging workforce looking for more than pay, companies have to make themselves attractive in different ways. This will vary from business to business, but there are a multitude of options available to organisations looking to stand out from the crowd. These can include social events, office environment, even treats or snacks, the opportunities are endless!

Investing in talent

In this tumultuous job market, there is one proponent of recruitment that towers over others: the employee. The rise of platforms such as Glassdoor and social media sites means workers now have a stronger role than ever in how a company is perceived and, in turn, its ability to attract the best talent.

A key way in achieving this is using employee referrals to bring individuals into a company. By using workers’ social networks, they can find like-minded people to propel the business forward. Think of it this way, the positive words of one friend is worth the same as an endorsement from hundreds of recruiters.

By embracing flexible working and using existing talent to attract new talent companies can bring about a huge change. It can revitalise a business and assist in ensuring it can reach its full potential. There is an abundance of technology that allows individuals to work anytime and anywhere seamlessly, meaning adopting flexible working is far less daunting than previously.

Equally there are some pretty dynamic recruitment solutions that help you to further engage your existing talent, thereby amplifying your changes of attracting like minded individuals. If this is combined alongside other benefits, the company’s culture and be transformed. This will help your business win the talent war, get the brightest people onboard and, vitally, keeping them there.

Employees standards and demands are changing and, unless your company keeps up to date, it will find the best candidates look elsewhere for work.