It is the case that many job descriptions will talk of a fantastic flexible working environment. But too often this ‘flexibility’ falls short of expectationand are not ‘flexible’ in the way that staff perhaps want them to be. A recent survey of worker preferences revealed that 76% of employees want flexibility regarding where they work, and 93% want flexibility regarding when they work. This is a significant shift in our working culture. And it suggests that businesses may be alienating a huge section of the workforce when they refuse to accommodate flexible working.
In this article we take a look at why flexibility can be an extremely beneficial strategy when it comes to recruitment. This means looking at both flexible working options for staff, as well as considering how your company can be more flexible in terms of its hiring policy and decision-making.
The rise of remote working
There has been a huge and likely permanent shift towards remote working. This was already a revolution that was gaining momentum – but lockdowns during the pandemic and the need to embrace new ways of working has certainly created an environment where remote working could be normalised.
However, while many workers had imagined that remote working would be something that they would enjoy full time, the reality was not that simple.
“We won’t forget what we learned, the new ways of communicating, the particular realisations about our own mangled productivity, the importance of switching off when the work day ends,” says Eva Wiseman writing in The Guardian “But nor will we forget what we missed about office culture, and what we appreciate afresh – the thrill of really good gossip, the unlikely community there, the change that happens when you leave the house.”
The reality is that flexibility is a better option than prescribing one specific way of working.
Workers know what they want
We have already talked about the preference for flexibility in both where staff work and when they work. Employers might think of this as something that doesn’t need a great deal of focus. However, we live in a different age, in the post-pandemic era – and workers are willing to make changes.
In the light of the pandemic, three out of five workers are considering a career change. That is a huge number – imagine if you lost more than half of your staff. It is up to employers, then, to listen to workers’ concerns and find ways to make their current roles more attractive to them.
Take business advice before hiring
It should also be noted that flexibility doesn’t solely relate to how your team works. You also need to have flexibility in terms of how you make decisions. After all, decision making regarding hires is a crucial part of the process – which areas of the businesses need strengthening? And, what are the opportunities that you could be taking advantage of.
Many businesses worry about the expense of working with business advisers, and others are put off by the fact that it is very difficult to assess the effectiveness of advisers. However, they may be missing a key option in the form of their accountants.
Accountants are actually an overlooked option when it comes to business advice. In particular, chartered accountants can do far more for your business than just manage your payroll and complete your end-of-year accounts.
“Chartered accountants have the expertise and experience to provide business advice to companies of all sizes,” says Oliver Spevack, Partner at Hamlyns Chartered Accountants, “this includes recruitment. Accountants are well placed to advise on key areas of recruitment including which areas of your business needs investment.”
Be open to change
If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the things that we take for granted can change in an instant. Those businesses that tried to ride out the crisis without changing any aspect of their operation will have found extremely quickly that it either cost them a significant amount of money, or the business became unviable.
Those that survived (and even thrived) were the companies that were able to embrace the change and find new ways of working. This is a great lesson for your recruitment strategy too. If you have used the same ways of recruiting for a long time, you might find this will become a significant challenge to your ability to operate effectively.
Interestingly, CIPD’s latest Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey, highlighted organisational response to the increase in competition for well-qualified talent, via several in-house recruitment approaches. Existing workforce upskilling, together with more flexible working / location options and career-returner / mid-career change programmes have all been used to try and address the skills and talent gaps in the post-pandemic market. Yet, the survey showed only 46% of organisations had a workforce planning strategy in place to cover current and future workforce needs.
A flexible strategy within a changing recruitment industry is key to ensuring all potential benefits to your operation are explored. Not everything will be right for every business, but given that we have shown it can have a huge impact both on your ability to recruit new staff and retain your current team, this can be hugely useful.
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