Work as we know it – the five-day work week, the nine to five, even the CV – is no longer.
The pandemic was a catalyst for change, and we are on the precipice of a new way of working and doing business. Yet, for economists, executives and the UK government alike, returning to the pre-pandemic job market has become an obsession. Vacancies have now climbed above pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest ONS statistics, and with restrictions easing in July, getting UK professionals back to work – and keeping them there – has become the key focus as leaders cope with pandemic-induced economic strain.
It’s a powerful target, and it’s also impossible without a fundamental shift in the way we think about the workplace and workforce. Getting market pipelines back on track requires the people pipeline to hum. A recent survey conducted by Tide revealed that almost 40% of the UK’s workforce have experienced burnout at work in the past 12 months. While technology has enabled many organisations to experiment with highly flexible working schedules or even the four-day work week, they are the exception, rather than the rule. The majority of Britain’s professionals are struggling to balance outdated business practices with a neoteric reality.
The pandemic has created the first attainable window to fundamentally shift how Britain powers business. If you’re looking to chart a new course for your workforce and create a more sustainable vision for the future of talent, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Fluid Lives Versus Rigid Schedules
For the last century, the working world operated on a strict eight-hour workday. Employees are in the office nine to five, buffered by an hour-long commute – many had it down to a science. The digital migration spurred by the pandemic completely upended that structure, revealing additional corrosion lying under the surface of our workplace cultures.
When the pandemic shut down large swaths of industry, women disproportionately dropped out of workforce, due in no small part to their dual roles as both worker and caregiver. The lack of flexibility in their now at-home environment forced many women professionals to choose one over the other – a choice not mirrored by their male counterparts.
The good news is that a new standard is being established for knowledge workers: hybrid culture with a digital background. Untethered to an office, employees have greater control to balance the needs of careers with personal lives, a powerful tool for both women and men to carve out a unique plan that works for them. From an employer perspective, businesses unlock a more engaged, productive workforce, optimising innovation and outcomes by aligning more closely with the distinct needs of departments, teams and individual employees.
Progressive organisations have started to make this realisation – research has shown that 50 percent of organisations are loosening or removing location requirements with remote work, and 53 percent say they are providing home stipends or hiring bonuses for home office setups.
With decentralised teams on global timetables, the onus is on businesses to embrace technology that prioritises connection and communication and empowers employees to work most effectively. Creating a robust digital experience is the backbone of the flexible workplace – and it begins before an employee is hired. Maximum impact is achieved with a consistent, continuous approach to the digital experience from a job seeker’s first touch, through the hiring process, and as employees advance through the organization.
There is no going back. Businesses that prioritise these new work arrangements and technology will thrive. The others ultimately may not survive.
Say Farewell to Tired, Expired Recruitment Practices
The CV is another function of antiquated thinking that no longer serves us. It is time to let go of the one-dimensional account of our professional lives that exists entirely separately from how we connect and communicate today. iCIMS’ annual Class of 2021 report confirmed that just two-thirds of UK-based university seniors believe that CVs are important when applying for a job.
Accepting that we need to rethink a key tenet of the recruiting process is difficult but necessary. Constantly evolving profiles are commonplace in our personal lives; we shouldn’t have to lower the bar when it comes to our careers. Building a better talent experience begins here, with a dynamic profile that can capture an individual’s experience and skills as they happen. The talent experience doesn’t end on an employee’s first day, it is an ongoing loop of attracting, engaging, hiring and advancing. Just as the traditional CV is a barrier in this process, dynamic profiles are a critical differentiator in revealing potential and opening the door to new opportunities with less friction.
The most effective recruiting solutions are interactive, integrated channels that landed in recruitment from the consumer space – for example, the email to text message transition is a more efficient way to communicate. In fact, our research and data from our platform found that the use of text messaging in recruitment has exploded. In 2020 alone, text messages from employers to candidates increased by 47 percent. Additionally, our Class of 2021 report revealed that 90% of graduates are happy to communicate to recruiters via text.
Video-led experiences also took hold in the workplace during the pandemic, providing opportunity for authentic, real-time engagement. As we recover, it is integral to continue fostering these means of digital storytelling. Video gives us the opportunity to be meaningful, intentional and share experiences from everyone across the organisation. Employers can create relevant, engaging experiences and truly showcase what it means to be a part of the organisation and in specific roles. Job seekers are empowered to showcase their whole selves, not just what is written on a piece of paper, through their hiring journey.
We’ve seen similar transformation occur in marketing and in the CRM space. Now is the time to take this approach to our people pipeline. Multidimensional content and communication are poised to become the new standard in hiring. Creating a stronger blend of traditional and non-traditional methods matches today’s preferences and yields stronger candidates.
Talent is your Competitive Edge
The difference between a good and great business is its workforce.
Just as the workday has become blurred, so has the nature of positions themselves. Professionals often crave learning opportunities and jump into new areas to expand their horizons – many times in a new company. We are living in the talent economy. Meaning, people are the most important part of every business. They are the difference maker – powering innovation and transformation through product development, brand positioning, frontline operations, the list goes on. We cannot afford to lose our differentiators, a truth requiring that we shift how we think about talent and teams.
We can give employees an increased role in shaping their careers and help businesses address the widening skills gap with reskilling and upskilling programs. With the proliferation of hybrid work environments and the need for robust digital experiences, tech talent is in high demand and short supply. Instead of losing top talent to new career opportunities outside an organisation, talent managers have an opportunity to retain that talent by creating new career opportunities within.
Tapping into and growing the skills within the figurative walls is essential to success. Companies that recognise this, and shift how they find and build teams, will be the ones that thrive.
A Step in the Right Direction
We’re witnessing a gradual return to the pre-pandemic job market, but the way we work has forever changed. In this new world of work, employees and employers face shared experiences and challenges. With a shift in mindset and new practices in place, together, we can reach new heights of talent and job satisfaction.