THE Key Message For 2022… Look After Your People!

The latest ONS Figures show unemployment falling sharply towards pre-crisis levels and employment increasing. Nearly 2.2 million people started new jobs in the summer – the highest level and rate (7%) in at least twenty years.

Despite these trends, vacancies have continued to grow strongly – across all industries – which combined with falling unemployment has led to the lowest number of unemployed people per vacancy since at least the early 1960s.

Labour supply simply cannot keep up with demand, which in turn is holding back growth and adding to inflation.

Firms will need to continue to do more to support retention in work and more inclusive recruitment, including offering greater flexibility, job security, training and induction, and workplace support with health, caring and wider needs.

Flexibility and benefits are crucial

The pandemic has made it clear that businesses can succeed without requiring employees to sit in the office from nine to five..

An employee-centric “hybrid” or “flexible working” model – in industries that can support it – offers employees and businesses the best of both worlds and keeps everyone happy.

What does a successful hybrid working strategy look like?

Hybrid working is about more than simply telling employees to work however they choose. An effective approach centres employee freedom and doesn’t preference a specific way of working. If employees feel coerced to work from the office or from home, the policy won’t have the desired effect.

The key is to understand the benefits that really matter to employees.

Benefits that matter to employees

Today’s employees – especially younger ones – demand benefits that improve their work-life balance, create a healthy culture, and meaningfully contribute to social causes. In short, flashy but insubstantial office benefits and online “forced fun” to keep remote workers satisfied simply don’t cut it – people want real balance.

Free snacks or drinks in the office can only go so far. Instead, businesses should focus on clear and effective mental health policies, subsidised gym memberships or exercise classes, and initiatives like flexible working.

Every organisation’s circumstances are different, but it’s hard to go far wrong with commitments to maximising flexibility and respecting employees’ time.

How do these strategies attract talent?

Now that employees have experienced the variety of modes of working, many have learned what works best for them – and these preferences are increasingly informing their job search.

Given the acute skills shortages facing many industries, there is significant value in policies such as hybrid working that broaden the pool of potential candidates. A hybrid policy ensures that no candidate is turned away because the company rules don’t match their working preferences. Similarly, the freedom to work remotely also opens roles to candidates from further afield – those beyond commuting distance and even those in other countries – further expanding the talent pool.