Tag: Flexible Working

The gig economy may be key to overcoming staffing shortages

For a lot of us, the pandemic shifted the way we see work for good. More people began to embrace flexibility and seek out new working options.

But flexibility is something that’s been at the heart of the ethos for temporary staffing platform GIG long before the pandemic.

Flexible shift work app GIG means for candidates that there are no requirements for working 9-5, 5 days a week. Instead, they’re able to choose when they work and where they work, as much or as little as they like. That means candidates could be working as a Warehouse Operative one day, and serving behind a bar the next.

The new campaign features, Dave, the star of GIG’s new Sky Go ad campaign, and he does exactly that. Dave picks the gigs that work for him, from warehousing, to hospitality, to events – meaning he’s got time to spend with the people who matter.

In a post-pandemic, skills short economy, flexible working has become more than a buzzword, it’s essential to the future of staffing.

TALiNT International has reported time and time again that candidates in the job market are continuously looking for flexible working options; those jobs that allow candidates to work around their studies, caring responsibilities or if they merely want to spend quality time with their family. But flexibility doesn’t just have to be for those looking at part time hours either as this could result in lower pay. With GIG potential candidates can still work full time, when and where they want. For instance, workers joining the GIG hub model may work full time 6 days a week, with many opting to work away at GIG’s warehouse partners, supplying some of the UKs biggest retailers.

The gig economy hasn’t always had a good reputation, but GIG shows that this flexibility doesn’t have to come at a cost. Their workers are guaranteed the basic rights that other gig economy providers often miss, such as holiday pay, and they push all their partners to offer well above minimum wage rates.

Antony Woodcock, MD of GIG commented: “Flexible working can offer a diverse range of opportunities for all, and that it doesn’t just have to be something that [fills a gap]. The whole concept behind the campaign is to showcase the opportunities that flexibility with GIG can bring. If you don’t want to be tied down to a single job, working hours that don’t fit your life, then there is another option. If you’re looking for regular shifts, training and experience to be able to build a career, that’s also something you can achieve with GIG.”

For businesses, there are clear gains to be made too ­– flexibility is not only a vital way to deal with the peaks and troughs that an increasingly unpredictable world throws their way, but it may also be the key to unlocking the talent needed to overcome staffing shortages.

With both businesses and workers being hit by recent increases in the cost of living, flexible solutions such as GIG can be a much-needed lifeline.

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Senior leaders unaware or unwilling to alter approach to managing the workforce

According to the 2022 Culture Report on Tech-Enabled Employee Experience from Achievers Workforce Institute, companies where senior leaders accept remote work are 29% less likely to struggle with attraction and retention.

While employees’ desire for flexibility in the workplace is at an all-time high, senior leaders at many companies are unaware or unwilling to alter their approach to managing the workforce.

In fact, the number one reason that workers changed jobs during the pandemic was for better work flexibility, AWI said. Of the workers who have the option to be hybrid or remote, 85% said they prefer that option. However, two-thirds say company leaders expect them to be in the office at least part-time.

Likewise, 56% of leaders in HR say the C-Suite doesn’t understand this change in the workforce, and 45% say they don’t have support needed to make changes that will attract, engage and retain top talent.

Employer concerns

Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Achievers Workforce Institute’s Chief Workforce Scientist said: “A major concern for company leaders is fostering a culture of connection and belonging with a dispersed workforce. We know that a strong sense of belonging drives a 3x return on a wide number of business outcomes. Many leaders believe that to achieve their desired culture, employees must be in the same physical space. However, the world of work has changed and so must our approach to creating a sense of belonging for employees. Employees are sharply focused on having an experience of connection and belonging, but they are confident they can achieve it while working from anywhere.”

Despite concerns over their performance, the research found that remote workers were equally as productive as those who worked in the office. It also found that employees are more likely to be engaged and advocate for their company when remote. They also have a tendency to trust their company leaders more.

In addition, HR leaders in companies that support remote work say they’re less likely to struggle when trying to attract and retain top talent.

The AWI study identified four types of technology that can foster the culture that both employees and company leaders are seeking: network, recognition, wellness and feedback. By implementing these systems, research shows that employers find an increase in engagement, belonging, trust and productivity, as well as their employees feeling valued and less burned out, overall.

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Spain, Italy, and France are top destinations

According to new research, more than half (57%) of workers are planning to extend their holidays this year to work abroad.

The research undertaken by flexible workspace operator, IWG, revealed that 88% of workers plan to work from anywhere – UK or away – this year. Hybrid working has opened up opportunities for employees to work from anywhere, and many companies are responding accordingly. For example, companies such as Airbnb and Spotify have introduced work-from-anywhere policies to provide employees with flexibility when they travel.

The research showed that 67% of workers believe that they can perform their job effectively abroad, and a further 71% agreed that they would only consider a new job if it gave them the flexibility to work from anywhere for at least some of the time.

In terms of the benefits of working from anywhere, the following were cited:

  • Improved work-life balance (76%)
  • Spend more time with friends and family abroad (52%)
  • Saving money by travelling off-peak (47%)
  • Being able to enjoy longer holidays (30%)

Eighty-nine percent of office workers surveyed said they’re now more likely to work from anywhere than pre-pandemic. A further 83% believe that businesses’ adopting hybrid working has made this lifestyle possible.

‘Flexcations’ are also a popular perk. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they would be more inclined to work for a company offering frequent ‘flexcations’ as a perk.

The top locations for hybrid overseas workers:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France
  • United States
  • Greece

According to IWG’s office usage data in popular overseas locations for the start of summer:

  • Barcelona, Spain, saw a 168% increase in usage from June to July
  • Italy saw significant rises for its shared offices in Turin (+412%), Milan (+312%), and Rome (+137%).
  • France also recorded growth in its offices in Rennes (+249%), Lille (+155%), and Reims (+147%).

While employees are keen on making the best of the summer months, employers must update policies. Forty-one percent of employees said their employers did not have an official policy in place, and this was preventing them from working from anywhere.

Mark Dixon, IWG Founder and CEO, commented: “For an increasing number of workers, the days of the daily commute are over, now that hybrid working offers the opportunity to work wherever we will be the most productive. And thanks to cloud technology, that can be anywhere in the world, provided there’s a high-quality internet connection available.

“So, it’s no wonder that more and more individuals are embracing the idea of combining work with travel, whether it’s for a few days tacked on to the end of a vacation, or a few months as a digital nomad.

“This trend is set to accelerate further, and we will continue to see more and more companies embracing WFA policies to improve employees’ work-life balance and increase their attractiveness as an employer.”

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Flexible working encouraged as a solution to staffing issues

Constant staff shortages across all industries in recent months have resulted in chaos across all sectors from logistics to hospitality, including disruption within food production and airports such as Manchester.

Staffing agency GIG is countering this by encouraging businesses to embrace new ways of working and offering people the chance to find jobs that fit their lifestyles. They’re increasing their reach in the North West by reopening and expanding their Manchester office.

The British Chamber of Commerce advised that 76% of businesses faced recruitment difficulties in the second quarter of 2022. The manufacturing, logistics, and hospitality industries experienced some of the biggest struggles.

GIG is a staffing agency focused on maximum flexibility for its workers and clients. They see a model where workers can pick when and where they work, how many shifts they need and how often, and training to take on new roles.

Tony Carnall will lead the new office. Carnall has a long background in hospitality and is familiar with the challenges of keeping the sector and others like it well staffed.

Antony Woodcock, MD at GIG, said: “The recruitment crisis we’ve seen in the past year isn’t going away on its own, we’ve got to rethink what we offer potential workforces.

“Central to our ethos is understanding that everyone is different and the types of work they will want to do varies – there’s no one size fits all.

“Parents might want shifts that fit around childcare, more young people are looking for travel and new experiences and need a job to match – these opportunities aren’t always readily available and so we’re excluding valuable workers from the labour force.”

“But that flexibility can be a tricky path for many businesses to take, as they fear uncertainty – we wanted to create a system that gives businesses the opportunity to use flexibility in new ways”

Tony Carnall, Regional Manager, GIG’s Manchester office, commented: “I’m excited to be back working with the Team at GIG and getting our Manchester Office set up and running. Manchester has grown so much over the last few years that now feels the right time to bring what we offer at GIG to the city.

“My aim is to grow a strong, reliable workforce through regular recruitment and interview days, and building strong relationships with both our clients and candidates past and new.

“Having worked with sectors such as Hospitality, Warehousing and Events, I know how challenging staffing can be – but building strong relationships with our clients and workforces will help combat those issues.”

 

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73% of workers will accept a four-day work week if pay does not decrease

A survey of over 2,000 UK workers and 250 UK employers found that flexible work is more popular among job seekers than a four-day work week.

Despite 37% of employers implementing a four-day working week, recent research from Reed.co.uk has found that candidates are more likely to apply for a job offering “flexible working” opportunities (45%) than a “four-day working week” (40%). “Work from home” followed at 32%, and “opportunity to progress” was noted at 31%.

According to the research, despite 89% of workers favouring a four-day working week, flexible work remains the more popular alternative for employers seeking to generate job applications. Flexible working is defined as a way of working that suits the individual’s needs, with flexible start and finishing times and/or the freedom to work from home.

The research also found that only 16% of workers would accept a pay reduction in exchange for a shorter week. Seventy-three percent of respondents were open to the shorter week if pay did not decrease.

Over a third (37%) of employers have implemented a four-day working week, and 27% are considering it.

Generally, the reasons for employers’ support of the four-day working week are focused on employee wellbeing. The benefits cited include:

  • “better work-life balance” (51%)
  • “increased employee happiness” (43%)
  • “higher employee engagement” (41%)
  • “increased productivity” (36%)
  • “reduction of burnout” (36%)

James Reed, Chairman of Reed.co.uk, comments: “Despite strong arguments in favour of a four-day working week, evidenced also by recent UK trials, our research suggests that it may not be the best or most popular way for businesses to attract and retain top talent.

“The National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work has suggested that cramming five days’ work into four might contribute to stress. Instead, offering greater flexibility could be more impactful and more popular.

“Amid a highly competitive labour market, it’s encouraging to see so many employers open to exploring new and creative methods to attract candidates. The era of the traditional 9-to-5, five day working week is over and it’s now more important than ever for employers and employees alike to embrace flexible and inclusive working patterns that will allow everyone to contribute to the workforce.”

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94% of those who quit their jobs have no regrets about leaving

A report from The Conference Board has revealed that as the Great Resignation’s momentum continues, one-third of workers are actively looking for a new job.

According to the report, 94% of those who left their company in 2021 do not regret their decision with respondents stating that if given a choice to return to their previous organization, a quarter said they likely would.

Rebecca Ray, executive VP of Human Capital at The Conference Board commented: “Despite worries of a recession — and the hiring slowdown and layoffs that often result from a downturn — the labor market remains strong. And the robust jobs market is continuing to empower workers. Our survey results reveal [workers] continue to want more flexibility and higher pay, and they’ll go elsewhere to attain these benefits. But slowing economic growth makes the decision to jump ship riskier. To retain talent, companies should work with their employees to determine to what extent they can accommodate their needs.”

Insights from the report include:

Job seeking: The Great Resignation isn’t over. Thirty-one percent of respondents are actively looking for a new job, while 28% are unsure if they will quit in the next six months. Only 38% indicated they would like to stay with their current company.

Flexibility a driver: Seventeen percent of workers stated that they voluntarily left their company within the last year for a flexible work location, flexible work schedule or the ability to work from home/anywhere with other top reasons for quitting were higher pay and career advancement, cited by 22% and 14%, respectively. Thirty-seven percent of individual contributors quit for more flexibility, compared to 18% of CEOs. Additionally, more flexibility, higher pay and career advancement were the top factors that would influence workers’ decision to stay at their company.

Fatigue: Job fatigue is driving workers to quit, especially women and millennials. Eleven percent quit their jobs over the last year because of workload. A quarter of millennials quit because of job fatigue, while 25% of women left because of job fatigue, compared to 13% of men.

Pay expectations: Fifty-two percent of Gen X and 47% of Baby Boomers said higher pay would influence their decision to stay with their organization. Seventy-four percent of millennials said the same. Meanwhile, 61% of individual contributors would likely stay at their organization for higher pay, compared to 22% of CEOs.

CEO turnover: Forty-five percent of CEOs said they left their organization for a stronger connection to mission and purpose, while 36% left because they had greater faith in the positive trajectory of their new company. The survey included more than 1,100 individual professional workers. It was conducted from June 21 to June 28.

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Switzerland, Netherlands and Denmark come out on top

Research across 16 European countries by UK-based occupational health company Latus Health, has examined a variety of factors to determine which comes out on top for employee wellbeing. The research took into account factors relating directly to work such as average hours worked, flexible working opportunities, and sickness absence rate, as well as external factors relating to financial security and physical and mental health. The research revealed that the UK ranked 5th worst for employee wellbeing out of the selected European countries, with Poland ranking the worst, Czechia the second worst, Spain the third worst, and Portugal the fourth worst.

According to the research, UK workers work the lowest amount of average hours per week, while ranking the worst for flexible working opportunities, with just 4.7% of employees usually working remotely. They ranked ‘extremely good’ for sickness absence rate with an average of 4.6 days per year, in comparison to Germany which ranked the worst with 19.9 days of absence per year relating to sickness.

Jack Latus, CEO of Latus Health commented: “It’s not enough to take a reactive approach to employee wellbeing anymore. The past years have seen a massive shift in priorities for employees, and many of these are around wellbeing and work-life integration. Businesses that don’t invest in these will be left behind in the race for employee retention and attracting top talent.

“Businesses are largely responsible for the conditions inside of the workplace that contribute to poor employee wellbeing and stress, however, we’re seeing more and more workplaces offering benefits relating to wellbeing outside of work. Giving employees the tools to maintain and improve their health and wellbeing is essential for a healthier workforce.”

The UK lagged further behind when it came to financial security and was ranked extremely poorly for gross household saving rate, poorly for disposable income, and moderately for average salary. The gross household saving rate was just 7% in comparison with European neighbours France (14%) and Germany (18%) but fared better than Spain (6%). In terms of physical and mental health, the UK ranked extremely poorly for political stability and the environment, poorly for average alcohol/tobacco spend, but good for stress levels in comparison with some European counterparts, however, 46% of people reported experiencing burnout relating to work.

European countries ranked from worst to best for employee wellbeing:

  1. Poland
  2. Czechia
  3. Spain
  4. Portugal
  5. UK
  6. Italy
  7. Germany
  8. Belgium
  9. Austria
  10. France
  11. Norway
  12. Iceland
  13. Sweden
  14. Switzerland
  15. Netherlands
  16. Denmark

The countries taking up the top spots perhaps aren’t surprising due to the countries’ reputations for positive attitudes towards wellbeing, as well as the levels of investment into this. Due to increasing flexibility around where and how we work, employee wellbeing strategies have fallen behind in their provision for hybrid and remote workers. The development of tech-based solutions allows employees to regain control over their wellbeing, wherever they may be. This restores the balance of responsibility between employee and employer, giving employees more autonomy over their own health.

Taking this research into account, UK employers should put more focus on wellbeing considering how difficult it is to attract and retain scarce talent.

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Is this perk the answer to stress and burnout?

Investment bank Goldman Sachs announced in April that they were moving their senior employees onto a ‘flexible vacation’ policy, allowing for time off when needed instead of fixed maximum days per annum. Junior staff will still receive the statutory leave requirements.

The new policy requires all employees to take at least 15 days off, this in an attempt to change a culture that has previously left bankers depleted and exhausted.

This move can be a powerful recruiting tool. A recent Fortune and Harris Poll survey showed that half of employees preferred the idea of having unlimited paid time off to a higher salary.

For the most part, this move is applauded by employees and observers, especially in light of an increasingly burnt-out workforce.

The question is whether this is the great benefit everyone expects it to be and whether it will change the culture in a competitive environment such as Goldman Sachs?

Kiki Stannard, Managing Director at ZEDRA, commented: “It’s well known that employers are determined to keep their best and brightest employees, particularly those who work the hardest and contribute the most. With 24/7 connectivity nearly everywhere globally, finding time away from the demands of a stressful job are becoming more and more difficult. It is often a challenge for those in the highest demand to get a decent amount of time off to rest and recuperate properly –  both physically and mentally –  never more so than in the world of financial services.

It may have come as a surprise to many to read that internationally renowned investment bank, Goldman Sachs, announced that senior staff are being moved to a ‘flexible vacation’ policy which will permit time off when needed and not adhering to fixed maximum days per annum.

Having been hailed as progressive for the industry and designed to encourage a decent amount of time off to support health and wellbeing (there will be a minimum level of time off for junior staff which aligns with the statutory requirement in any event), will there really be any change in culture or attitude at Goldman Sachs – often viewed as fiercely competitive?

In the US, the tech sector has actually been offering unlimited vacation for many years which might sound like a significant benefit where vacation is around ten days plus public holidays.

The reality however can be quite different.

  • The unlimited vacation is only on the basis that the employee’s work is done, or the break will not disrupt the business, often leading to employees logging on regularly whilst they are away
  • Confusion can arise around the use of the policy and different interpretations as to exactly what amount is acceptable as ‘unlimited’ according to who your line manager happens to be
  • There can be an inclination to cancel a day’s leave when something urgent comes up at work
  • Blurring of the lines can be seen where there is a performance issue requiring careful management or additional employee support
  • Does unlimited vacation just mask real sick days?
  • Does unlimited vacation result in a duvet day for anyone who is just not that motivated?
  • How can you shake that Monday morning feeling when you know that not turning up today is ok?

Unlimited holidays can work for some businesses and sectors, but this type of policy won’t work for every company. In today’s environment it might act as a great benefit to entice new, often younger, starters to join a company. It’s always important to engage with staff and key stakeholders to get a better idea of the appetite for such a policy before committing and if there is desire, prepare thoroughly to avoid any negative ramifications to individual staff and company morale.”

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Work flexibility widens the talent pool

According to president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Virginia, hybrid work arrangements are here to stay; but adds that organisations shouldn’t forget that we had offices for a reason.

Thomas Barkin made the comments in a speech this week with the key takeaway being that companies need to reinvent the office for hybrid working and that while it will look different organizations must focus on making the most of the time workers still while working in person in order to maintain connectivity.

While remote work has positive aspects ­– employees value flexibility, it pulls more people into the workforce and it improves hiring pools – there are certain trade-offs.

“Offices evolved into the dominant model for good reasons, and companies are rightfully hesitant to lose those benefits,” Barkin said.

Efficiency and productivity rank among those benefits; however, offices provide much more, he said.

Companies need to be more “intentional” when it comes to connectivity among workers.

“Enabling more connectivity may require rethinking spending,” Barkin said. “Some companies are reconsidering their physical footprint and lowering real estate costs as a consequence. They should be thinking about redeploying some of those savings into connectivity spend, including meals and social events in the office and occasions to bring people together outside the workplace.”

He went on to say that if we are honest with ourselves, we aren’t optimizing the hybrid environment today.

“To make it meet its full potential, we need to leverage the power of technology while innovating to recreate the benefits which the office once provided.”

Take Google for instance. The company is opening its newest campus in Mountain View, California, and executives say they aim to make it a place where employees in the company’s advertising division feel more comfortable returning to the office for decades to come.

It’s also the company’s first ground-up developed campus. Google’s other campuses are pre-existing buildings that had been modified by the company, a spokesperson told CNBC.

Google’s VP of Workplace and Real Estate David Radcliffe commented: “As we started with a blank canvas, we had to ask ourselves another set of questions, and that was simply ‘what will work look like in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years, 100 years? And I’ll be honest, the conclusion we came to was ‘we have no idea.’ But what we did know was it meant we had to be extra, extra focused on flexibility. This building had to be able to transform itself over its lifetime in order to respond to the demands being put on by the business.”

 

 

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Personality over professional and education, reveals survey

A new survey by small business lender iwoca has revealed the most sought-after skills that small business owners look for when hiring new employees and what impacts their hiring decisions.

With small business vacancies hitting record highs at 575,000 (a 72% increase from the same period last year), the survey revealed that more SME owners are looking for personal skills instead of professional ones when hiring.

The top five attributes were:

  • Honesty (44%)
  • Good personality (38%)
  • A skill set that matches the job description (37%)
  • Experience in a similar position (37%)
  • Good at verbal communication (34%)

According to the survey, the least important attribute was an undergraduate degree, with only 6% of small business owners believing that an undergraduate degree is important when recruiting.

When looking at the impact of recruitment on a business, 15% of small business owners believe that poor hires prevent future company growth and a further 11% agree that it leads to fewer sales.

Flexible working arrangements seem to be one way for new hires to meet their potential. Nearly half of the respondents who offer flexible working believed that these arrangements positively affected productivity. Only 7% said that it had a negative impact.

The survey results indicate that millennial business owners are more likely to offer flexible working arrangements, at 43%, compared to older generations, at 35%.

Seema Desai, Chief Operating Officer at iwoca, commented: “Small businesses employ over two thirds of the nation’s workforce. Some of the perceived barriers to applying for a job, such as having a degree, might not be as high as some job seekers think they are. Our research reveals the importance of strong personal skills when applying for roles, and the importance of hiring to the future growth of any business.”

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