By Lysa Campbell, CEO of Retail Marketing Group
The way in which businesses across the country work has transformed exponentially since March 2020, with entire workforces suddenly told to operate remotely. Some organisations thrived, with their cloud solutions and unified communication tools empowering them to adopt a remote working ethos with ease. On the othe hand, those with more rigid and antiquated processes have found this sudden shift jarring.
More than a year later and many organisations have now adjusted to working from home, with some reviewing their previous work structures and realising that productivity and employee efficiency could be achieved from the comfort of their homes. However, one aspect that many organisations are struggling with is the attraction and retention of quality talent. A recent report from National Federation of Independent Business found that more than a third of small businesses have open positions they haven’t been able to fill, despite an unprecedented amount of those currently out of work.
Attracting and retaining quality talent to any organisation has been a challenge since before the pandemic began. A significant catalyst in this has been the rise of a multi-generational workforce and the shifting workplace values.
A workforce that’s more diverse than ever
With the world entering a shift where there are now four generations in the workplace – all with different expectations and demands – employers need to carefully consider who they want to target to fill vacancies. They must also begin to plan on how they will attract the desired generation, especially in a world that is only just recovering from a global pandemic.
Companies now must also battle general changes in people’s expectations of work coming out of lockdown. The pandemic has highlighted that it is possible for companies to function almost exclusively remotely, but this has opened up a whole new world of remote and flexible working, which every generation has now adopted in their desires for the workplace and their future careers.
Over 60s have realised they no longer need to retire full time, and most favor part-time retirement, opting instead for flexible work. Elsewhere, over 30% of workers in their 40s now have children entering their teenage years. Where once before they would have had to stick to their rigorous 9-5 hours and make their family mould around them, the pandemic has shown they can work whilst still spending time with their families and children. This is also aided by the cut down of commutes to and from work, allowing parents to spend more time with their family. However, a downside to this is that working from home can lead to some challenges when it comes to switching off after work. Therefore, they are looking for job roles that will enable them to have a balanced family work lifestyle.
The younger generations in their 30s and below (Millennials and Gen Z) are currently working with less job security, and are retiring later and without a pension. With completely different generational values, Millenials and Gen Z tend to prioritise company culture, clear training opportunities and flexible working patterns, striving for a more suitable work-life balance. Out of all the generations, these two are the ones most likely to want to return to the office, but over 90% say they don’t want to return full time. Over 87% of respondents from the Citrix Systems report are focused primarily on career stability, security, and a healthy work-life balance, which flexible working readily provides.
Managers must consider all these generational differences when hiring for new positions; how they plan to cater to different generation’s unique needs in order to attract and retain.
Ways to attract talent
As more Gen Z employees enter the workforce, the business landscape has shifted and businesses have had to re-think their overall values to adapt to the change in their talent. Particularly when Gen Z are concerned, companies that offer training programmes, career opportunities and a positive working culture are more likely to see an uptake on Gen Z applications.
Before the pandemic, companies would be able to easily showcase their corporate culture by inviting the interviewee to the office, asking them in-depth questions and showing them the office workspace and their potential colleagues. COVID-19 and national lockdowns have meant that the whole hiring process was forced to shift online. Now, as we move towards the end of the pandemic, the new digital hiring process is not predicted to change, due to the ease of the process especially for a more geographically diverse talent pool. So, how can a company showcase their culture if they don’t do in-person interviews?
The most important way to demonstrate culture for companies is to be where the emerging talent is, in an increasingly dispersed and digital landscape. Gen Z in particular are tech-savvy, socially conscious and highly ambitious. By promoting the success of your team through LinkedIn and Twitter, prospective applicants can witness first-hand how business leaders treat and support employees, promoting overall well-being and support across the company. Social media also gives them a chance to interact with your company before they apply for vacancies; indeed, some companies have even reported receiving higher quality candidates whenever they recruit via social networking sites.
Ways to retain talent
The crucial next stage is knowing how to retain quality talent after a company has successfully hired them. This is when companies can begin to offer training, additional financial incentives and well-being initiatives. However, it’s important to note that what all generations desire above most things is flexibility.
When hiring new employees, businesses will likely offer contracted hours, the typical 9-5 stint. Yet typically, younger employees prefer to be measured on performance, rather than time. If employers can offer a delivery-based contract rather than demanding 40 hours per week, or allow them to work anywhere and anytime, they are more likely to attract them – and get the best from them in the long run.
Workplace hiring of the future
COVID-19 has irreversibly changed the way businesses operate and the values and benefits employees look for when applying for any potential vacancies. People from all generations have had a taste of what it is like to work from home and many are demanding this to be incorporated into a businesses everyday operation as they get into full swing of reopening. In order for businesses to attract the highest quality candidate possible, they must meet the candidate halfway and rethink what it means to be an employee in their company. Do this, and they will soon form a multi-beneficial working relationship that will last.