The last three years will go down in history as some of the most unusual and unexpected years in recent times. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and an unforeseen global pandemic has undoubtedly shaken the recruitment landscape, but have these seismic events changed the market beyond recognition?
What has changed?
In a time of absolute upheaval, high-flying talent in successful tenures have held on to the permanence of their roles. We live in a time of fiercely competitive working markets as a result, particularly in the high-octane legal recruitment market. Each recent socio-political occurrence has also had a lasting impact on mobility. The restrictions on movement posed by Brexit conflict with the increased flexibility and remoteness of the working world brought about by COVID. Consistently since 2020, however, companies have had no option but to build first-class legal teams that can face and mitigate risk for these competing forces.
How, then, do companies continue to hire the best talent despite challenging border requirements and in a way that still cultivates a connected team? The legal industry, which traditionally relies on cross-border moves, can provide a useful example of the challenges, and opportunities, of post-pandemic and post-Brexit moves. The way in which companies are navigating this landscape can provide employers with some top tips on grappling with this unique tension.
1. Stay flexible
Firstly, make the most of the flexibility opened up by remote working. Candidates in the Swiss life science market, the robust regulatory legal talent in Belgium, the French-speaking skills of Parisian lawyers, and tech-savvy counsel in Berlin, amongst others, have long attracted UK employers. To continue to hire such talent post-Brexit, UK headquartered companies have increasingly opted to hire a remote workforce. After all, a contemporary workforce is a remote one in a post-pandemic world. Employing the use of affiliates for the domicile of employment contracts has served as one option to facilitate foreign hiring in recent months. Not all companies have the luxury of this network, however, so what other options are there?
2. Harness rotations and short-term placements
The UK has set a limit of 180 days that can be spent in the UK in a given tax year. In excess of this, the individual is considered to be domiciled in the UK and is subject to UK tax regulation. Companies are availing of this to have lawyers who are based remotely spend significant time in the UK, and yearly secondments or team rotations are becoming more commonplace. The agility of such hiring strategies is an appealing tactic for employers looking to attract and retain the top talent in a post-pandemic world.
3. Go global
Employers should make the most of the rich diversity of an international talent pool where possible. For instance, the pedigree of UK-trained lawyers will remain coveted across different markets, despite the socio-political changes of our time. Particularly in global roles, UK-qualified candidates, experienced in a common law system, can offer input on US, Canadian and Australian matters. International and particularly American headquartered companies seeking to hire UK talent are showing increasing comfort with senior lawyers retaining a UK base so long as they are amenable to frequent travel, which often equates to as much as 50% of their role. For both employers and candidates, being prepared to look across borders could create a rich seam of opportunities.
4. For smaller companies, it’s time to get creative
It is unfortunate, however, that most viable options fail smaller start-up or less established organizations that do not have affiliates or sub-entities based in markets outside the UK, or who are based in geographies that do not boast a wealth of UK-qualified candidates.
In every circumstance, but particularly for smaller companies, negating the restrictions imposed by new immigration regulations and the hiring of the right candidate (rather than the available talent) is down to a company’s ability to creatively motivate candidates to relocate.
However, no matter what your size as a company, those with robust and inventive HR teams, who collaborate with tax and legal stakeholders to create opportunity, have thrived in their recent hiring strategies. Top talent feels valued, rewarded, and motivated when given the opportunity and when remunerated generously to relocate.
5. Tailor your strategy to suit your employee’s needs
When it comes to relocating no judgment can be held against individuals who are unable to move due to family or other personal reasons. Companies often find the willingness of candidates to change geography, despite political and social landscapes, to be an encouraging demonstration of commitment to the role, but other options such as weekly commuting are no longer as accessible. Employers and employees should be open to short-term rotations or a hybrid system in a more meaningful way than before.
In short, employers looking to stay ahead in the post-Brexit European talent race should: stay flexible by leveraging the best aspects of hybrid working, look far and wide, get creative with relocation strategies, and be understanding of a candidate’s working preferences, including their location. These strategies will allow employers to reap dividends with a committed, loyal workforce. After all, “all mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move”, as Benjamin Franklin once said.
By Elena Bajada, Managing Director at Major, Lindsey & Africa.
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The last three years will go down in history as some of the most unusual and unexpected years in recent times. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and an unforeseen global pandemic has undoubtedly shaken the recruitment landscape, but have these seismic events changed the market beyond recognition?
COVID-19 changed many employees’ work routines, both in positive and negative ways.
As a result of long-term remote working, many companies are considering introducing hybrid working models, giving staff the option of combining working from home with going into the office.
However, hybrid working could also have a significant impact on employee mental health with many reporting symptoms of ‘hybrid burnout’.
Burnout is defined as a phenomenon ‘resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’ In 2020 it became a recognized condition by the WHO.
Hybrid burnout is the result of juggling long hours working from home with commutes to offices, which can not only be physically exhausting but also take a considerable toll on employee stress levels.
But what can businesses do to help employees manage the physical and mental health implications of a hybrid working environment?
1. Recognize the signs
Individuals in management should become aware of the signs and symptoms caused by hybrid burnout, as well as what they can do to prevent or respond to it.
Staff may become fatigued, forgetful, and struggle to concentrate, with so much going on around them. Early on, this may make people feel worried, irritable, on edge, or tense.
Further down the line, this anxiety – caused by juggling multiple work environments- may become so severe that it affects professionals’ ability to work productively (or at all).
There are also potential physical symptoms to consider, like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches.
2. Assess company culture
A Gallup study revealed the main causes of burnout are not the nature of the work itself, rather, how a person is treated and managed while they are working.
Consider how different leadership approaches might impact employees. For example, behaviors like bias or unfair corporate policies can cause stress and lead to overworking, with staff feeling a need to ‘prove their worth’.
Make certain that healthy work behaviors are modeled from the top. Help employees understand their value to the company and their contributions to the organization’s goals. Employees feel more valued, and display more motivation in the workplace if, and when, they understand their exact role in the greater purpose.
Take a few minutes each week to update employees on company news and how your team’s actions are contributing to the company’s overall success.
Also, make time to tell staff specifically what you value about their contributions. Try to build this into your regular routines, perhaps by starting your team meetings with shout-outs acknowledging the accomplishments of individual team members.
3. Encourage conversations
As well as ensuring all staff feels appreciated and comfortable in their roles, managers need to ensure they demonstrate to their teams that the business has an open, supportive and welcoming approach when staff are distressed or finding it difficult to cope.
Employees need to feel conversations about difficulties surrounding work are both welcomed and expected.
This requires employers to feel empowered to enable better conversations about mental health in the workplace. At Nuffield Health, we introduced Emotional Literacy training for all staff.
92 percent of whom took the training stated they felt able to support a colleague in distress. Initiatives like this build an open community, and a common language, encouraging more people to say “I’m not OK” and ask others “Are you OK?”.
Employees should also be signposted to any other designated people, like, mental health champions for additional support.
4. Communicate set policies
It’s important company policies that promote good work/life balance are widely communicated. With hybrid working, this means using multiple channels to ensure you reach all employees, whether it’s through company social media platforms, emails, or even by text alerts.
Actively nurturing and promoting reasonable work hours, including, if necessary, encouraging employees to go home, when in the office late, or messaging them to ‘go offline’, at the end of their regular workday if you recognize a pattern of unhealthy overworking.
Help assess workloads for those who feel pressured to remain working beyond normal business hours and let them know there is always support available and additional resources to help them manage mounting projects or multiple deadlines.
Sometimes employees simply don’t realize these are things they are welcome to ask for.
5. Provide professional emotional wellbeing support
A recent Nuffield Health whitepaper revealed spending more than 2.5 days a week working away from the office can be associated with deterioration in co-worker relationships and job satisfaction.
For those having difficulty with the balance between remote and office life, consider introducing professional wellbeing support like Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) and timely access to effective psychological therapy (such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).
These interventions can be delivered remotely or face to face and give individuals access to a specialist who can help them understand and break unhelpful thinking patterns and “what if” thinking that may exacerbate stress and burnout in uncertain times.
By Gosia Bowling, National Lead for Emotional Wellbeing, Nuffield Health.
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Since the pandemic hit, we’ve been inundated with research, articles, news, discussions, and content of all kinds around the dramatic shift in the world of work.
And so here’s another for you.
But perhaps with an idea that goes slightly against the grain.
We’ve heard much about the steep rise in demand for flexible working, with LinkedIn reporting a 60% increase in searches for ‘remote work’ and a 189% growth in applications for these positions.
And providing the option of flexible working appears to be vital not just for recruiting talent, but also for keeping it.
74% of employees have said they would be less likely to leave a company if given the opportunity to work remotely.
So, just offer flexible working and all your talent acquisition and retention problems are solved, right?
You of course know it’s not that simple.
So, although the headlines read flexible working increases employee loyalty, it’s what’s under the headline that can be the difference between whether an employee chooses to stay or go.
It’s how that flexible work is managed that’s key.
Just because a team isn’t physically together 9 – 5 Monday to Friday, doesn’t mean company culture is abandoned. Especially since 77% of job seekers consider a company’s culture before applying and almost two-thirds of employees cite culture amongst the top reasons for staying in a job.
So, whilst meeting that demand for flexible working is necessary, it can’t be offered in isolation. Think of it more as a strategy of recruiting and retaining talent. Here we run through the components that can make up that strategy.
Ensure a strong line of communication
This is obvious, we know. But that doesn’t make it any less crucial. Remote means no longer being able to turn to a colleague and get an immediate answer. Waiting ages for a reply or even not receiving one can be frustrating and slow down progress.
This doesn’t mean immediate answers should be expected when working remotely. A downfall of working at home for some has been the expectation placed on them to be reachable and responsive 24/7. This, of course, is not what we’re suggesting.
What we are saying is that there should be lots of opportunities for employees to reach out and get a response. So, that could be using a project management platform, setting up a WhatsApp group, and having weekly team meetings.
Don’t abandon the onboarding process
Hiring remotely comes with many obstacles. One of which is showing new recruits the ropes. But that first impression is key. Having a schedule set over 2 weeks that runs through projects, platforms, and meet and greets gives you a structure, plus the confidence that everything important has been covered.
If meeting in person is an available option, take it. Even if it’s just one day, that physical meet can make all the difference to a new employee. If it’s not an option, then there’s always the trusty Zoom and screen shares.
Celebrate employee success
When an employee has done a great piece of work, gone above and beyond, or mastered a new skill, it’s easy to say well done when you walk past them in an office.
It takes a little more time and conscious effort when remote. But only a little. And that small amount of extra effort can go a long way. So, be sure to send that email or publish that social media post to show your appreciation.
Adopt a virtual open-door policy
An open-door policy is often used as a way of encouraging effective communication, showing mutual respect, and building relationships. And just because you no longer have the physical door between you and your employees, doesn’t mean this sense of accessibility has to be lost.
Make sure your employees know you’re available at the end of the phone, share your calendar, or add a Zoom link to your email signature that allows catch-ups to be booked with ease.
Create a virtual water cooler
We all know the cliche, office workers gathering around the water cooler to chat about their lives outside of work. General office chit-chat was a way for colleagues to build friendships. Being in the same room as someone all day meant talk wouldn’t just be about work, you could strike up a spontaneous conversation with someone with ease.
And so, because flexible working can mean more varied schedules, there’s a risk that any conversation between colleagues only takes place when tasks need to be discussed. Spontaneity is lost and with it the chance to get to know one another.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Arrange Microsoft Teams or Zoom calls for colleagues to talk about anything but work. You could include activities and games, or simply keep it as a chance to just chat.
Why not go a step further than the virtual water cooler and organize in-person get-togethers? Team lunches or away days can be a real boost for morale and give you all the chance to create actual connections that can lead to more investment from your team.
Help with home setup
Wanting and being able to work from home are two separate things. That’s why it’s important to support your employees with their home office setup. Make sure they have all the equipment they need to work comfortably and effectively, such as a laptop, desk, chair, and phone. And if they don’t, offer to help.
Offer expenses allowance
Typically, tea and coffee are on tap when you’re in the office. A kettle, coffee, and tea bags are staple office items, being without would probably cause the same stir as an office without, say, computers.
But when you work from home, you no longer get the free coffee and tea bonus. Then again, why shouldn’t you? Offering a small expenses allowance for team members gives them the option of working from a coffee shop, this way they still get the drinks and benefit from a change of scene.
Make sure remote also means flexible
Just because a company offers remote working, doesn’t mean flexibility is guaranteed. Directors may fear a loss of control and productivity when their employees are working from home, leading to micromanagement.
A big reason why so many want the option to work remotely is that they want flexibility. They want to be able to work when they’re most productive, pick up their children, do the washing in their lunch break, and start earlier to finish earlier. Make sure your form of remote working incorporates this fundamental flexibility.
To sum up
People want flexible work. It’s a fact. But that doesn’t mean they want to be left alone (not all the time anyway). Merely offering flexible working won’t win you the top talent and ensure you keep it. It’s what comes with flexible working that counts. It’s the communication, the increased freedom, the chance to connect, and the continued support, that’s what makes the difference.
By Amy Nelson, Commercial Director at Nelson Recruitment Services.
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The COVID-19 era of work and life has been a crazy ride. Life was seemingly put on hold for many months last year and parts of it are still not back to normal today. As we all work to get past COVID-19 and the long-lasting impact on work and life, one thing has surely changed for good — the corporate office.
Recently, GoodHire surveyed 3,500 Americans to gain a better understanding of what has actually changed in the world of office work as well as remote work.
What they uncovered seems to be extremely useful information for recruiters, HR pros, and their employers.
Remote Work is King
GoodHire’s survey found that an overwhelming 68% of Americans would opt for remote work over in-office work. This is a huge shift from previous decades in which the majority of people had never experienced even a single day of remote work.
In most cases, people now have the technology at their disposal to perform at a high level from any location, so it makes sense that they would prefer to avoid their usual commute, office clothes, and many other things that bother the average office worker.
What’s even more shocking is the part of the survey which revealed that 61% of survey respondents said they would take a salary cut just to continue working remotely!
It’s clear that the people want to maintain remote work, and they’ll literally pay for it.
Adjusting to the New Normal
Just because employees are fond of remote work, that doesn’t mean employers feel the same way. But should they?
The same survey revealed that 67% of Americans believe that companies not offering remote work would struggle to attract applicants, and many also stated that those same companies not offering remote work might have to increase salaries to attract talent willing to work in the office.
This is hugely important information for recruiting purposes. In order to attract top talent, employers must consider the option of a hybrid approach or even a remote-first setup.
While recruiting for remote roles can be more difficult at times due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, recruiting pros are becoming increasingly more adept at this process as the year goes on. And for good reason. Companies offering remote work are offering more than just that, and it means a lot to their employees.
They’re offering freedom, autonomy, and trust. They’re straying away from the old-school office environment that so many dislike. And by embracing remote work, companies are giving themselves a head-start toward attracting the nation’s top talent.
Keeping Current Employees Happy
While recruiting can be hugely helped by offering remote opportunities, we should not forget about current employees, either.
GoodHire’s survey found that 74% of Americans believe that they would need a continued remote work offering from their current employer to stay at their current job.
This is a huge shift for HR professionals who are not used to monitoring culture and working environments with remote employees. But the people have spoken, to retain employees and to keep them happy at work, remote opportunities are key.
More Key Findings
In addition to the findings mentioned above, GoodHire’s survey also revealed that:
A huge majority — 85% of Americans — believe that their colleagues and other employees around the nation prefer working remotely rather than working from the company office.
61% of Americans would be willing to take a pay cut to maintain remote working status. Some workers even suggested they would take a 50% pay cut to avoid returning to the office.
45% of Americans would either quit their job or immediately start a remote work job search if they were forced to return to their office full-time. Almost one-quarter of the respondents said, specifically, they would quit if a return-to-office mandate was instituted.
74% of Americans need a continued remote working arrangement to stay at their current job.
85% of Americans prefer to apply for jobs that offer remote flexibility, while just 15% would apply for a position that requires total full-time office work.
60% of Americans would move to a new city just for the opportunity to work remotely in any capacity.
70% of Americans would forfeit benefits to maintain remote working status, most commonly: health insurance, paid time off, retirement accounts, and more.
84% of Americans need to see COVID-19 safety protocols in place before considering a return to their company’s office.
By Sara Korolevich, Director of Content at GoodHire. GoodHire is a company that provides a flexible and efficient alternative to complex background checks.
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Last year, many executives opted for early retirement when COVID-19 hit. Others were let go by their companies due to perceived redundancy in roles or the need for financial cutbacks.
More than a year later, the economy is bouncing back and companies (both new and old) are trying to recruit quality leaders. And they’re discovering that hiring the right executive is more challenging than ever. But now is the time to invest in visionary, long-term leaders who can help your company adapt to the new future of work.
The consequences of the wrong executive hire
The consequences of making a bad hire at the executive level can be felt across the entire organization. The wrong leader — especially in the C-suite — can have lasting repercussions that continue long after they’ve left your company. Here are just a few potential outcomes:
Lost productivity: A bad executive may lead their team down the wrong path in pursuit of goals not aligned with the company as a whole. Bad leadership and the wrong attitude can also bring down an entire team’s morale and productivity. In addition, all the time and money spent recruiting, onboarding, and training an executive hire will have to be reinvested — potentially costing your organization six to nine months of the desired position’s salary.
Tarnished reputation: In the digital age, a bad hire can quickly tarnish your company’s reputation. They, or their dissatisfied former direct reports, can drop negative reviews on job review websites which can affect your ability to recruit top candidates, regardless of level.
Turnover at the executive level also sows seeds of discontent and dissatisfaction into your workforce. Employees may question your company’s stability, and even worse, look for a job elsewhere.
Decreased valuation: Effective leaders determine company success and shareholders often react negatively to executive turnover, especially if it’s unexpected. According to PwC, CEO turnover reduces median total shareholder return to -3.5% and a forced turnover can cost $1.8 billion more than a planned succession. If your business is service-based or project-based, a bad executive hire and changes in leadership could also impact customer satisfaction and retention.
5 ways to recruit the right leadership
Strong executives are vital to any business. They bring innovative ideas and energy that help your organization evolve. So, even though today’s hiring landscape is extremely competitive, you can’t afford to hire the wrong executive. The following tips can help you recruit, close and retain the right leaders in the current environment:
Know your company: Before you start the hiring process, make sure you understand your company’s culture, values, workflows, and weaknesses. Then, practice how you communicate it. Hiring a good fit means they need to want to work at your company. This requires setting accurate expectations during the interview and hiring process.
Know your goals and challenges: Similar to knowing your business, you should know where it’s headed. Identify your company’s goals. Then, consider the challenges your organization, industry, and sector will face in the next five years. This will help you determine the ideal experience and expertise of the type of executive hire who can get your company to the place it needs to be.
Be clear about your remote work policy: According to a recent survey, 55% of the workforce wants to be remote at least three days a week. A company’s remote work policy is now a key consideration for candidates, so determining how often you need your executives to be in office (and whether it is negotiable) will help set expectations and ensure long-term success.
Maintain momentum: Once you’re in the hiring process, make sure it doesn’t drag on. A slow process can frustrate candidates and cause you to miss out on a good hire. When you find the right person, be decisive and clearly identify next steps. In this way, recruiting is like sales: Time kills all deals.
Lean on networks and partners: The best hires aren’t always those looking for a new job — the right person for the job may be an internal candidate, a referral from an employee’s network, or a product of outbound recruitment. A talent partner who has the experience, expertise, and existing relationships can help you uncover the perfect candidate, even if it’s someone who isn’t raising their hand.
Good people power success
We’re at the precipice of a new era of work. The pandemic continues to change the hiring landscape, accelerating digital transformation and popularizing remote work. Companies need strong leaders to ensure they not only evolve, but stay ahead of the competition. With the proper practices and partners in place, you can make the right executive hire to help propel your business forward.
By Phil Gaddis, President of Executive Search, Addison Group.
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This past year has greatly altered the dynamics of the U.S. labor market, including job seekers’ expectations of employers, according to a new 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report from Jobvite. It is predicted that many of the changes experienced will be here to stay, bringing about what many believe to be the rise of the optimized workforce. As a result, talent leaders and recruiters must understand how to adjust efforts for the job market today and into the future.
Remote work & company culture.
The pandemic has created profound changes in workplace preferences for job seekers, including the desire for remote work. Per the Job Seeker Nation Report, 35% have declined or would decline a job offer that required them to work full time on location, in an office, or at a worksite, and 100% remote work is preferred by 33% of workers.
Despite an increasing number of employees working remotely, the importance of company culture in applying for a job has continued to rebound. Nearly half of workers believe company culture is very important in their decision to accept or reject a job – a 21% increase since 2019.
Employers need to implement a hybrid and culture-centric work environment to lure top-quality talent. Likewise, talent leaders must incorporate these company values into the hiring process. This can be accomplished by implementing a cohesive recruitment marketing strategy that includes social media, as more than 33% of job seekers use social media networks to learn about an employer’s culture.
Diversity hiring is vital.
With this year prompting many Americans to reflect on what is important to them, it is fitting that those beliefs and priorities are being brought into the job search. This year’s report found a significant number of workers (42%) would turn down a job if the company lacked diversity in its workforce or had no clear goals for improving diversity in hiring.
Separately, 49% have inquired about employer’s goals and efforts around improving diversity in the workplace during interviews. Based on these results, it’s evident that recruiters need to embrace diversity initiatives, as it significantly influences workers’ decisions to apply, accept, or even reject a job.
To do this, recruiters must create employment opportunities for all regardless of race, religion, color, gender, identity, age, ability, location, or creed by mitigating challenges in the job-seeking process due to unconscious bias. This can manifest itself in how a job description is written, how a job opening is marketed, what schools an organization recruits candidates from, how a candidate is interviewed, and much more.
Balance in today’s always-on workforce.
The majority of surveyed workers report increased stress levels since the onset of the pandemic. In today’s world of competing priorities and unexpected distractions, remote workers are also struggling to transition between “work time” and “home life.” In 2021, 42% of surveyed workers said they are working longer hours compared to the year before.
Employers must deliver a more thoughtful approach to helping employees achieve a more balanced life based on workers’ individual needs. Talent leaders can then highlight how the company supports its employees through these practices, both now and into the future. This can be delivered through information and videos on the employer’s career site, which continues to be one of the most powerful recruiting assets.
Interviewing tactics & preferences.
Here’s the good news for recruiters. Over the past year, an overwhelming majority of surveyed workers consider their most recent candidate experience to be primarily positive. Excellent communication from recruiters, ease of scheduling, and easy job application process were the top reasons for positive candidate experiences.
A preference for texting is also on the rise. This year’s report found that a majority of job seekers prefer texting for scheduling interviews in comparison to email or phone. This is especially true for workers with children, as 30% are comfortable participating in an interview via texting. Like consumer behavior, candidates have renewed expectations of their job-seeking experience, especially while on a mobile device.
However, lack of access to adequate technology or Wi-Fi has negatively impacted 35% of job seekers’ ability to participate in a video interview. Recruiters need to consider how this may affect a candidate’s participation and outline strategies to overcome this challenge, as virtual interviews continue to be leveraged in the recruiting process.
The Rise of the Optimized Workforce.
The expectations of job seekers and employees have changed forever. As a result, recruiters need a complete understanding of how to adjust efforts to meet the demands of varied realities for today’s workers. To do this, talent leaders must equip themselves with the right skills, knowledge, and strategies to effectively navigate the current reality and engage high-quality talent.
Kurt Jones is a Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Jobvite, a leading end-to-end talent acquisition suite provider that serves thousands of customers across a wide range of industries.
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Since the announcement on the 22nd February 2021 that lockdown restrictions will be easing, there has been a 466.67% increase in Google searches for “returning to office”.
Over the last year, the UK has had to adapt to a new way of working, especially with mental health affecting so many people working from home. A study done by Harvey Nash shows that 1 in 3 people reported that their mental health has deteriorated, while 26 percent of UK tech professionals have said that they are experiencing even higher levels of stress than they did before the pandemic.
Researcher at the Institution of Organisational Safety and Health (IOSH) Kirsty Iliffe and leading commercial space provider, Bruntwood Works, have provided advice and some lessons learned from the past lockdowns when it comes to supporting employees mental health.
Kirsty says; “The ongoing stress of the pandemic could lead to both physical and psychological damage and even depression and anxiety,” she goes on to add; As employers, organizations have a duty of care to help their employees and in many countries, they have a legal obligation to do so.”
“It’s important that organizations are aware of the potential mental ill-health implications and ensure they are aware of their roles and responsibilities in supporting their teams.”
1 – Have regular, honest one-to-ones
Lockdown has changed the way we schedule our days. Previously, a manager’s office door was always open. Now, our communication has dwindled as the lockdowns go on, and we get used to working from home.
Effective one-to-ones under the new measures look fundamentally different; they should be open, honest conversations about how we feel, what we’re worried about, and — most importantly — what’s helping us through it.
“Keep in regular contact with remote workers,” says Kirsty. “This will help to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s a good way to ensure that workers are well and that they understand any information and instructions presented to them.”
During these conversations, you should let your staff set the agenda. This is the time for managers to listen more than anything else. Establishing a safe space where employees feel heard, can be a lifeline for those who are struggling.
2 – Bring the office perks home with you
Back in the office, business owners spent a lot of time understanding how their employees’ environment affected their productivity, meaning they were creating office perks that would encourage a friendly and productive environment, but when we entered lockdown this wasn’t an option anymore.
Companies should continue to boost staff morale by finding ways to continue those perks outside of the office.
Here are some of the most common office perks — and how you can replicate them remotely:
Gym memberships — If the gyms are closed run a virtual fitness club instead. Share your results using a smartphone app and incentivize the winner with prizes like an afternoon off or an Amazon voucher.
Free food — Used to getting free snacks or meals at the office? Send your staff vouchers to order themselves a tasty lunch a couple of times a month.
Great internet — Most modern offices have fast internet speeds to cope with staff being logged on eight hours a day, but it’s tricky to replicate that at home. Invest in some signal boosters for staff who are having trouble with their home internet connection.
Office games — Missing the foosball table in the office? Luckily, there’s a ton of virtual games you can challenge teammates to instead. You can play Pictionary, Scrabble, and even chess online. Start a leaderboard to see who’s doing best on your team!
3 – Share some good news
When everyone was first put into lockdown, we were obsessively connected to the news cycle, which was mainly negative news being fed to us. Continually being exposed to negative statistics greatly impacted the outlooks and moods of workers. To combat this, companies should share the good news as regularly as possible.
Jo Gallagher, People Business Partner at Bruntwood Works says the company has made practical efforts to share more good news. “Every day, right across the business we’re seeing, hearing, and reading some great colleagues’ stories on our staff conversation platform, Universe. We’ve welcomed a few new Bruntwood Works babies, we’ve embraced new learning opportunities and we’ve seen how our customers are supporting the fight against COVID-19.”
When reading through the press it may not be easy to come across positive news, as a business you can share stories of staff achievements and acts of kindness. Doing so will help lift moods and it may also help to prevent their mental health from deteriorating.
4 – Keep your (virtual) door open
When we were in an office environment, employees often mixed with different teams and senior team members, whether that was whilst making a coffee or having lunch.
Since we are working remotely that just isn’t possible anymore. Setting up measures that bridge the gap between the teams and senior members is important to make sure those relationships are still present.
“Communicate the organizational plan,” advises Kirsty: “be open and honest with all employees. Explain what the organization is doing to help protect its employees, their families and friends, and the organization itself.”
Opening these channels of communication helps your team feel more closely connected with what the business is doing. It gives them a chance to have their say during a time when very little seems to be in their control.
One of the best ways to do this is to have virtual ‘open door’ times for senior staff. During these sessions — perhaps a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon — company directors should keep their calendars free and be prepared to chat with any staff members who want to talk. It could be about the business’s performance, staff concerns, or even new ideas for how the team can move forward.
5 – Don’t give up on social events
Social events were simple before the lockdown. Teams would go out for a few drinks or maybe a fun activity and everyone would have a chance to get to know each other a little better.
As we can not attend any social events, it becomes easy for companies to stop hosting and creating staff socials. Leaders need to look for new options available to them.
Schedule regular social events with your team. Anything that lets you keep in touch without the conversation centering around work will help support your team’s mental health. Here are some virtual socializing ideas your business can try:
Virtual coffee sessions
Zoom evening drinks
Friday afternoon quizzes
A TV and film recommendations group
30-day music challenges
Virtual book clubs.
One step at a time
“People have personal triggers; some are better to carry on working while others simply need some downtime. There is also the social stigma that many feel around talking about their struggles.
Kirsty from IOSH highlights that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to maintaining your team’s mental health because everyone is different.
This being the case, businesses need to be in tune with their staff on an individual level. The only way to do that? Take a genuine interest in each and every member of your team.
“Some decisions can only be made by the individual, such as whether to go off sick or to continue working.”
“Make sure you’re investing in those relationships, regardless of the new obstacles in the way. That needs to be the number one priority of any company right now,” says Jo Gallagher from Bruntwood Works. “If you really care about how your staff is coping, finding the right support measures for them will quickly follow.”
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When recruiting, if you’re not adapting to working trends along with the nation, someone else will. So how is the working world settling into its new routine after a year of lockdowns and restrictions?
Whilst many think people prefer working from home, you’ll actually find there are mixed opinions. Some like ditching the commute and having flexibility, others miss face-to-face interaction and getting out of the house.
Office design experts, Diamond Interiors, have reviewed a chaotic working year to see how the nation has adapted and predicts what’s next for the working world.
What has working from home changed for good?
Flexibility certainly sticks out as a big winner. Without a doubt, people are appreciating the ability to spend more time at home, especially those with children. Businessman and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson has been pushing CEOs to adopt more flexible working models even before the pandemic:
“I’m a big believer that with the technology we have today, balancing family and business should be easier, not harder. Both partners should be able to work, realize their potential and raise a family; and flexible working enables people … to do this.”
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sees “the future as being more flexible” and realizes the importance of cutting down commuting for his staff:
“It’s always made me wonder when I see people commuting two hours and away from their family and friends on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans… So I think we could do better.”
Not only does working from home cut out commute times, but it can also cut down costs considerably. With travel costs, petrol, transport and then the daily or weekly lunchtime dining – it all adds up. At home, you’re not tempted by office lunch takeaways, local eateries, or having to spend money on actually getting to and from work.
However, money transfers to increased electricity, heating, and internet usage. But, how does it compare?
If you look at a worker who typically drives into a city every workday – such as Bolton to Manchester – that’s around 26 miles of driving every day (13 miles there and back). You’re looking at around £50 in unleaded fuel being saved a month by working from home. For a train commuter traveling from Bolton to Manchester, who uses a monthly season ticket, that’s around £105 saved or £120 without using a monthly season ticket.
But, you’re probably spending that back on electricity and gas over the month by staying in more. As of April 2019, the average dual fuel variable tariff was estimated at £104.50 a month. This is before the pandemic and government-mandated lockdowns. Now that more people are working from home, with more hours using electricity for work on computers, homebrews, daily microwave pings, lights and so on, that figure is probably rising by at least 50%, if not doubling – especially during those winter months and cold spells.
How has homeworking affected productivity?
Gabriele Musella, CEO, and Cofounder of Coinrule, notes a positive, saying working from home “has increased my productivity level. I can stretch out and schedule my work conveniently and work in a more relaxed environment.”
Others, however, have noticed the strain on productivity homeworking brings, like Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of Diamond Interiors: “We’ve seen employers struggle and noticed an impact. The office environment brings teams together and is where productivity thrives. That spark fades out when staff are distanced from each other; sadly business can suffer.”
Pichai (Google’s CEO), echoes this by valuing the office for face-to-face interaction and “being together… when you have to solve hard problems and create something new.” He wants to “create more flexibility and more hybrid models” since the company’s internal survey interestingly found quite a split in the favoring of working remotely and in the office.
Are we entering a new hybrid-working age?
Salesforce – a cloud-based SaaS company – supports a hybrid work model, claiming “the 9-to-5 workday is dead.” But, they also understand the difficulties of working from home, “especially for those with families at home or for those who are feeling isolated.”
Big-tech companies are also following suit with Twitter announcing early on that staff can work from home “forever.” However, employees can work in the office when it’s safe to do so.
With isolation impacting mental health, increased office FOMO, and balancing out costs, it seems the work-from-home shift will be a sliding one, rather than a complete switch. People are enjoying more flexibility at home, but want the best of both worlds. Only time will tell what the future of the working world will look like.
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Before the pandemic, flexible working was seen as the ultimate benefit. Whether it was the option to work remotely or to take advantage of a company’s flexi-hours policy, it was lauded as a fantastic perk for any role. Flexibility was offered to many, but not all workers (46% of UK workers weren’t offered any flexible working options in 2018), making it all the more desirable to those who were living without it. However, due to the dramatic shift we’ve seen in the past 12 months, this type of flexibility seems is undoubtedly here to stay. If it’s the norm, not the exception, what benefits should employers look at offering instead?
We recently hosted a webinar with four HR experts: Founder and Managing Principal at IA, Mark Stelzner; Group HR Director at Reward Gateway, Robert Hicks; Founder of Play Consulting, Marcus Thornley; and Saskia Donald, an HR professional with over 20 years’ experience. They discussed the need for employers to shift their employee benefits to better reflect individuals’ priorities. Find the key benefits below.
Wellbeing will remain a huge player in the benefits game moving forward and, as Robert explained, “firms [who] do wellbeing well will see talent stay, and those who don’t will struggle”. Due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, employees are now more in tune with their personal wellbeing and will look to their employer to help them cope. It’s important your clients view wellbeing holistically, taking into account mental, physical, financial, and social wellbeing.
In terms of mental wellbeing, companies looking to improve their offering can implement many different solutions, including training a mental health first aider, creating online resources, organizing structured training sessions, or even simply offering a subscription to a meditation app.
However, it’s not enough to simply have these resources available – clients should also lead by example when it comes to looking after their employees’ mental health. Mark described a recent moment where he recognized his employees needed him to lead the way during a period of acute stress: “I immediately put a message out to my entire team [to]… cancel every meeting if you need to and take care of yourself and your family.” Your clients should understand their employees will need support in different ways at different times; by allowing them space to pause and reset, they will prove they care about their workers’ mental wellbeing.
It’s essential to remember the other forms of wellbeing as well. For example, if your client is looking to promote physical wellbeing, they could implement a cycle-to-work scheme or hire a trainer to deliver virtual yoga/Pilates/meditation sessions. Similarly, by taking into account financial stressors and doing their part to alleviate them, employers could potentially offer a one-off stipend to help workers set up their home workspace, courses, and education around budgeting/pension funds, or access to a financial advisor.
There are a myriad of different options for those looking to introduce these benefits – the important thing to get right is recognizing the need to do so. Simply put, according to Robert, workers will ask their employers, “what are you doing to help me with my job, be effective and help me cope with all of my challenges?”
Learning and development (L&D)
Throughout the past 12 months, many of us have turned to online courses to develop skills or learn something new. According to Marcus, he’s seen “a lot of uptake in our business around learning… [it’s] never been [in] higher demand as it has been through lockdown”. There are a number of ways employers can encourage their staff to learn. Some of the better examples include allocating an annual amount for a person’s L+D and allow them to use it as they see fit; making online training documents available via a remote HR platform; or identifying those in the business with strong skills in a particular area and asking them to lead a presentation or seminar. At Tiger, the latter has worked particularly well: consultants have presented to the wider business on a variety of topics, from Brexit regulations to the importance of personal brand.
While it’s not surprising we’re seeing more benefits to help employees set up their home workspaces, this trend is here to stay. Many employers are now offering a stipend for workers to spend on better working equipment, but Marcus believes this benefit may evolve in the future to include “home utility grants – electricity, Wi-Fi, gas.” Not only will it appeal to those struggling financially due to the pandemic, but it will ensure workers feel truly looked after by their employer.
Two months into 2021, the global pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our lives and work. As recruiters, our knowledge of this uncertain market has never been more essential. By remaining abreast of benefits changes, you’ll be in a better position to advise your clients and help them attract the best candidates moving forward.
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