Events over the last two years have seen us enter a new world of work: remote/hybrid models, increased use of technology in employee engagement, record numbers of job vacancies and the supposed “Great Resignation”. Being a good employer in 2022 couldn’t be more challenging, or more critical, in the need to secure and retain talent and succeed as a business.
In a survey by HR Director, employee retention and attrition was the top challenge cited by HR professionals in the UK for 2022. Our ageing population, Brexit, the furlough scheme during the pandemic, and people’s re-evaluation of their own priorities have combined to result in a situation where hiring isn’t easy and losing talented employees is a real threat. Simply increasing salary offers for new recruits isn’t necessarily the answer – it can create considerable tension with existing employees on lower salary packages, may not be viable for many organisations hard-hit by lockdown and is only one of many factors that most individuals will take into account when considering a new role. For example, a recent Reed survey, cited on Yahoo News, found that 35% of UK workers would be willing to take a pay cut in order to remain working remotely on a permanent basis.
Finding the balance in a hybrid working model is challenging in itself. In the same Reed survey, 19% said that their employer wasn’t providing enough flexibility, whilst 17% felt that their employer was too flexible. The complexity of getting this balance right across a workforce of employees with different priorities is incredibly difficult, in addition to the general day-to-day issues that managers face trying to manage people remotely. There have been, and will be, employers who insist on their teams returning to the office but this approach is likely to lead to high levels of turnover, particularly as people now generally have more hybrid/remote opportunities available to them across a wider geographical area. But employers who continue to offer flexibility are not immune to losing talent, with people potentially feeling less emotionally and socially tied to their workplace.
In a recent article by Harvard Business Review, fairness and equity were deemed the defining issue for employers in 2022. This applies to working models – how much flexibility do people have and is it the same offer for everyone, regardless of their circumstances? Are the expectations (and pay) of people who live locally, who were previously office-based, different to those who were hired further afield, on a remote basis during the pandemic? And even beyond working models, people are looking at their employer’s wider policies and approaches, and questioning what’s in it for them. For example, people without children or dependents may feel it is unfair that they don’t necessarily have the same access to paid leave. With existing and prospective employees feeling more empowered to scrutinise and question employer policies, or vote with their feet, being perceived as fair and equitable is a challenge for any employer.
One of the great tools that employers do have is technology. Many older, more traditional organsations have already catapulted themselves into the 2020s with the likes of Teams, Zoom, Slack and the Cloud, but there is so much further still to go. Harvard Business Review have estimated that 65% of a manager’s activity – from approving holidays/expenses to monitoring performance – will have the potential to be automated by 2025. This gives managers the opportunity of more time, but also the challenge of how to use it effectively in ways that may take them far beyond their current capabilities.
Developing a Holistic Approach
Increased capacity does give managers the chance to take a more holistic approach to the individuals within their team, and to have an impact on perceptions of fairness and flexibility. With employers who do maintain some level of a hybrid/remote working model, managers will play a highly significant role in the creation of social/emotional ties to the company, satisfaction with work-life balance and the overall employee experience. Organisations which can be quick-adopters of new technologies and, even more critically, can develop their managers with the new skills and mindset required, will reap the rewards.
Organisations will also need to give more consideration to company-wide wellbeing initiatives. In a 2021 Aon study of HR professionals in the UK, only 44% said that their employer had an overarching wellbeing strategy. Perhaps even more worrying is that only 9% of companies are measuring the effectiveness of their wellbeing strategy, and there are many studies that indicate employee uptake of wellbeing initiatives may be as low as 20-40%. Companies need to get better at devising, implementing and evaluating wellbeing strategies across their organisation.
2022 is going to be another challenging year for employers but there will be companies that get it right. Inflation and pressure on salaries and margins means that non-financial tools will be ever more important. Apprenticeships are one of the ways that, through some investment in time but very little financial cost, employers can demonstrate their commitment to their colleagues and deliver positive change. Colleague attraction, upskilling, retention and motivation have all been challenging over the last couple of years. These are all areas that can be addressed by a well-designed apprenticeship programme.
Depending on your organisation’s area of need, programmes can be designed with specific objectives in mind. It might be to increase diversity and widen the pool of talent from which you recruit. It could be that roles have changed over the last couple of years and you now have a cohort of valued colleagues who need to learn new skills. Managing and motivating teams in a remote or hybrid working environment requires a very different approach – could your managers and team leaders benefit from a targeted development programme?
If you’re interested in finding out more about how apprenticeships can be part of your journey to becoming a really good employer, please get in touch at our website, email us at email@example.com, or phone us at 01614808171.
Damar Training are an established training provider with over 30 years' experience in the apprenticeship sector, delivering qualifications in business, customer service, management, travel, law and accounting.
They have been Members of the Good Employment Charter since February 2021, and are amongst the employers leading the way for better working standards across the GM region.