Tag: Pandemic

Recognised individuality is a key benefit for workers

According to research by LinkedIn, 86% of employers are planning to offer their staff flexible working opportunities and because of this, leaders are focussing on ensuring their workforce feels included, regardless of their work location. The research also revealed that, between September 2020 and September 2021, there has been an increase of 97% in remote jobs being advertised on the platform.

The study of more than 250 C-level executives in the UK revealed that as businesses look to offer hybrid (56%) and remote working (10%), leaders say their biggest concerns are that employees feel that working from home may result in their missing out on promotions or career decisions (35%) and that proximity bias may arise where leaders/ people favour employees who they regularly see (32%).

Out of sight, out of mind – Employees are concerned

A study of over 1,000 workers in the UK found that nearly half (44%) of workers believe that people who choose to work from the office are more likely to be favoured by bosses or senior management. Nearly 39% say that working from home may negatively impact their career because they get less in-person time with their superiors. A third of workers believe that being in the office is ultimately better for career progression.

Adam Hawkins, Head of Search & Staffing, EMEA, at LinkedIn, said: “It’s imperative that proximity bias doesn’t become an issue that impacts people’s careers. Ensuring everyone feels included at work, regardless of their location, is crucial to not only attracting and retaining great talent, but also creating cultures where people can truly thrive. Leaders must work closely with HR teams to facilitate the appropriate training and guidelines to ensure career progression is centred around performance, and not location.”

The belonging crisis

Similarly, research undertaken by Connectr, an HR tech platform, reveals that the pandemic has upended employees’ priorities with emotional support and a sense of belonging moving right to the top of the list of important workplace benefits.

Almost a quarter of workers now believe that having their individuality recognised is also important. This has more than doubled since February 2020. Other things employees are looking for in employers since the pandemic include being proud of the company they work for, having their opinions listened to, and being part of a supportive and inclusive team.

Millennials and Gen Z employees were found to be the driving force behind these trends.

Will Akerman, Founder and Managing Director at Connectr, commented: “The growing belonging crisis amongst British employees is going largely unnoticed, with many employers still failing to recognise the importance of building a sense of inclusion. In fact, the belonging crisis is 10 times bigger and twice as important than is being realised. If this isn’t addressed quickly, UK businesses are set to face a huge resourcing challenge which could be catastrophic for many who are still coping with financial impact of the pandemic.”

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Too many workers have no access to supported training

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed a rise in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in the autumn budget this week. While the increase was expected, it presents a “double whammy” for employers who are facing this increase at the same next year as the rise in National Insurance.

Richard Maitland, partner at MHA, says the rise is in line with previous annual increases: “The size of the increase to the top rate – the National Living Wage (NLW) – is also around the level we saw prior to the pandemic, although there was a ‘COVID-19 blip’ for the current year when the increase was much smaller.

“To be precise, the increase from April 2020, which had been agreed pre-pandemic, was £0.51 (an hour) and this current proposed increase (April 2022) is £0.59. The rise from April 2021 which did factor in the effect of the pandemic was unusually low, at just £0.19, although at the same time the NLW was extended to 23- and 24-year-olds, whereas previously only those aged 25 and over had been entitled to it.

“For minimum wage employers in sectors such as hospitality, who are very much still feeling the financial pressures of COVID-19, a further increase to their employment costs will be far from welcome.”

An REC spokesperson commented as well: “This rise is a return to the aim of raising the Minimum Wage to two thirds of median average wages by 2024, after a pandemic-inspired slowdown last year. In deciding the rate can get back on path in one year rather than two, the LPC has concluded that the strong pay growth suggested by REC surveys will persist – though this will put pressure on sectors like care and hospitality. The big unanswered question is about progression from lower-paid roles – too many workers are locked out of supported training by the inflexibility of the apprenticeship levy. We need a reformed model, where temporary and flexible workers can do shorter bursts of training that reflect labour market needs and raise their pay.”

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Finance industry least likely align with graduates’ social responsibility goals

CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, conducted a survey on the career outlook of more than 15,000 current university students as well as graduates aged 18 to 25, across 15 markets.

The results found that globally, 58 percent of respondents still feel confident about their future career prospects following the pandemic. Traditionally stable sectors, such as finance, remain attractive for graduates navigating these uncertain times with respondents across all 15 markets putting finance as one of the top five most valuable majors for finding a career. Medicine/science was also seen as stable and attractive, followed by healthcare and then education.

Margaret Franklin, CFA President and CEO of CFA Institute commented: “It is incumbent on companies to adapt to the new realities, such as hybrid workplaces, in order to attract and retain the young talent we need to help lead us out of the pandemic.”

“Worryingly, however, graduates currently don’t see the finance industry as making a positive social impact. This issue is only going to increase in importance, and industry leaders need to make sure we are on the front foot in educating students about the positive impact an investment career can have for people and our planet.”

 

Graduates are reassessing their career paths

Many graduates believe their future career will be as good or better than their parents’ generation, despite COVID-19. The survey results showed that those studying accounting and finance were particularly confident, with 80% believing their prospects are as good.

Despite this confidence however, 46% of the respondents reported they are reassessing their career paths considering the pandemic with top concerns now including low pay in their preferred sector (26%), lack of jobs in their preferred sector (25%) and working in a sector that doesn’t fulfil or interest them (26%).

 

Further education is key in a job market in flux

Developing work-related skills during and after their degrees was another concern for students. Those surveyed shared personal insecurities about this with 25% saying they feel underqualified for the job they want, and 22% saying they don’t feel prepared for the working world, post-graduation.

Students and graduates are seeing the benefit of further education. Nearly 87% of respondents feel that upskilling and post-graduate qualifications are important in the current job market, and 57% believe postgraduate qualifications/professional certification will give them an edge when looking for a job.

This is causing a significant uptake in further studies, with nearly half of graduates planning to prolong their time in education.

Peter Watkins, who leads the University Affiliation Program at CFA Institute in Europe, Middle East and Africa commented: “Graduates’ strong confidence in higher education is good news for universities but we should be clear about their motives. Graduates are clearly focusing on work-readiness, professional skills, and boosting their job prospects; higher education and credentialling institutions need to ensure their offerings meet this demand.”

 

Making a positive impact

We know Gen Zs are looking for a sense of belonging and to work in an industry that aligns with their values. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) respondents said it’s an important part of their career choice. Of concern is that only 8% of respondents consider a career in investment management as one in which they could make a positive environmental and societal impact. This shows again that the finance industry needs to more to educate students around the positive impact they could have to attract talent.

Watkins added: “Graduates may be unaware of the remarkable global trend towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and the career opportunities a specialism in sustainability and ESG could offer them in the investment industry.”

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Luton has best business survival rate

  • Fasthosts reveal the top cities in the UK for start-up businesses by looking into a large variety of regional metrics from business survival rates to the cost of office space.
  • Luton is the UK’s top city to start a business right now, study finds.

The arrival of the pandemic saw a 12.3% increase in new businesses – the highest increase on record.

By analysing average download speeds, business birth and death rates, five-year survival rates, office renting costs, and average working productivity across the nation, Fasthosts’ conducted a survey that revealed the top 15 cities for business opportunities.

Based on the benchmarks, Luton was crowned as the best all-round UK location to start a new business with an overall index score of 3.375. The city proved to have one the best rates of production, office prices, and business survival rates out of any other UK city.

In second place was Reading which boasted a super high productivity rate – even higher than Luton – but falls short at office costs and internet speeds. The Bedfordshire town ranks marginally higher than fellow southern start-up hotspot Reading (3.312).

In the battle of the capitals, Edinburgh outperformed Central London by the slimmest of margins, to rank as the survey’s fourth best city for overall enterprise opportunities, while the English metropolis took fifth.

The top 15 UK cities to launch a business can be seen below:

Ranking City Average download speed (Mbit/s) Business Death rate Business Birth rate 5 Year Survival Rate Cost of Office Space per sq. ft. (£) Productivity level
1 Luton 63 1040 1455 410 22 102.97
2 Reading 54 930 1145 435 38 126.9
3 Nottingham 69 1410 1510 20 14.88 86
4 Edinburgh 63 2540 2885 1150 35 104.8
5 Central London 51 5750 5190 32895 112 132.3
6 Liverpool 62 2445 3110 805 23 91.7
7 Portsmouth 55 845 1275 320 16.9 94.3
8 Coventry 58 1410 1620 605 18.5 91.6
9 Wolverhampton 61 1110 1245 380 16 84
10 Bristol 60 2370 2895 1140 35 97.6
11 Birmingham 58 5970 7870 2080 34 91.5
12 Newcastle upon Tyne 56 1105 1295 455 24 90.9
13 Stoke-on-Trent 53 810 965 385 16 85.5
14 Northampton 44 1275 2000 520 13.6 93.6
15 Bradford 49 1875 2305 945 14.6 86.2

Michelle Stark, Sales and Marketing Director at Fasthosts commented: “Even in a vastly increasing digital world, choosing the right city to launch a business is an important decision. And it’s great to see such a variety of cities across the country among the top 15 from Portsmouth to Edinburgh and Bradford to choose from. It’s important to be strategic when deciding in your business location and we urge all start-ups to check out our rankings before choosing their desired location for business.”

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Employers are prioritising plans to improve productivity

Since the start of the pandemic, rising financial stress due to an uncertain economy has created a downward spiral on employee wellbeing that has impacted employee performance. A study by borofree revealed that an average of 3.05 working days were taken off by workers in Great Britain last year due to the financial stress felt by employees.

The study examined the plans that companies across the UK now aim to implement in order to improve employee productivity, financial wellbeing and increase morale in the workplace as business recovery begins to take shape.

The research, which was conducted online by YouGov, highlights that HR decision makers are feeling optimistic about building stronger employee productivity as the economy settles into a ‘new normal’ with over half (57%) believing that employee productivity is set to  increase over the next 12 months.

Action taken from businesses to increase employee wellbeing over the next year will be critical for them to regain strong post-pandemic productivity growth and recover from a challenging 18 months. In fact, 83% of HR decision makers surveyed revealed that their business will be prioritising plans to improve employee productivity over the next year. Improving pay and working conditions for employees is high on the agenda for companies looking to regain lost morale due to the pandemic, with almost a third (31%) stating that this will be a business priority for them this year.

Across Britain the study highlights that employers are searching for new ways to increase productivity. The research shows that wellbeing is now a vital part of ensuring that teams remain productive, with over one in five (23%) companies looking to introduce new or improved health and wellness benefits for employees to improve morale and productivity over the next two years.

Despite financial worries among the UK workforce being a cause of emotional stress, the study shows that offering financial wellbeing initiatives as part of a businesses’ productivity recovery plan is still being overlooked. Whilst financial stress is a contributing factor to absenteeism in the workplace, only 12% of HR decision makers are looking to introduce personal finance coaching and training to employees to improve morale and productivity amongst teams within the next two years.

Minck Hermans, CEO and Co-founder at borofree, comments: “Whilst it’s great to see that businesses are prioritising incentives to build stronger employee productivity following a challenging 18 months, it’s critical that they do not overlook initiatives to promote better financial wellbeing amongst teams.

Our findings show that financial stress can lead to increased absenteeism in the workplace and the effect of this will hit a company’s bottom line. For employees that seek a certain degree of financial security from their employer such as being able to absorb an unforeseen financial shock, only one in ten (10%) businesses surveyed have stated that they are looking to introduce earnings on demand and paid weekly options for employers within the next two years and just over one in ten (14%) confirmed that they’ll be introducing salary advance facilities (e.g., a loan a company can give an employee from their future salary).”

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Over half of employees feel undervalued

Research released by Firstup, a digital employee experience company, revealed that employees are unhappier in the workplace now more than ever post-pandemic. The survey showed a mounting dissatisfaction among employees across the UK, US, Germany, Benelux and the Nordics, with talent feeling undervalued, uninformed, and un-unified.

Lack of communication from leadership was cited as a main contributing factor to unhappy employees with almost a quarter of respondents to the survey agreeing that better communication will lead to increased productivity and work satisfaction.

Nicole Alvino, founder and CSO of Firstup, said: “Businesses need to provide more valuable working experiences or remain responsible for the career reboot of the decade that some are calling The Great Resignation of 2021. This research is a clear and urgent call to action – an organisation’s employees are its most valuable asset with employee satisfaction having a direct impact on the bottom line. Business, HR and Internal Comms leaders must act now to stem this workforce dissatisfaction and engage their teams with personalised information that helps them do their best work.”

Research from the 23,105 workers found that 56% don’t feel valued in their role and 38% want employers to ‘create better lines of communication between executives and employees’.

It appears that remote workers seem to feel these complaints most keenly, with a growing tension between desk based and deskless workers. It found that 25% of respondents felt they get more attention from their employer when they are physically at the office, only 30% of deskless workers think that their employers listen to them, and 39% of desk-based workers felt that their deskless colleagues could learn from them about ‘how to communicate with colleagues and ‘how to work as a team’.

The great temptation

This comes off the back of research from Reed.co.uk which found that almost three-quarters of Britains are actively looking for a new job or are open to opportunities. The survey, which canvassed 2,000 employers attempting to attract new talent and retain restless employees, suggests that businesses will need to adapt their offering to align with new employee priorities that have been shaped by the pandemic.

Salaries remain a top driver with 39% of respondents stating that they would stay should their employer offer a high salary. Flexible working hours is also at the top of the list. Other suggested incentives from the survey included: more annual leave (25%), a promotion (21%), and 18% asked for increased training and development opportunities.

Commenting on the research, Simon Wingate, Managing Director of Reed.co.uk, said: “We are in the midst of a sea change in the labour market, with it very much having shifted from a buyers’ to a sellers’ market due to the sheer – and record-breaking – number of job opportunities available.

“After a challenging 18 months for jobseekers which gave rise to a culture of uncertainty in the labour market, workers are now mobilised by the prospect of new and exciting opportunities with better rewards. Employers must find creative solutions and adapt to the new market conditions following the pandemic in order to maintain the resurgent economy’s trajectory.”

Following LinkedIn’s recent research highlighting 6.8 times the number of recruitment roles posted on its site in June compared to the same time last year, is the Great Resignation spreading to the staffing sector?

“There is a lot of potential for ‘revenge resignation’ for all those who were put on furlough through successive lockdowns, in the wider economy but particularly in recruitment, but it’s less likely to impact employers who offer flexibility and authenticity with a client-centric culture,” said Tim Cook, Group CEO of nGage, who will be speaking on this topic at the World Leaders in Recruitment conference on 5th October.

Commenting on the growing debate about the Great Resignation, TALiNT Partners Managing Director, Ken Brotherston said: “In general it is always wise to treat dramatic headlines or simple phrases with a large pinch of salt. My general rule of thumb is this: does the person promoting the headline have an interest in it being true? If so, approach with caution.”

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Recruiters report difficulty in sourcing candidates

A survey conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) reported that nine in ten recruiters (88%) say that labour shortages are one of their biggest concerns for the remainder of 2021, while skills shortages are a major concern for two in three (65%).

With shortages hitting every sector of the economy and many staffing companies reporting the tightest labour market they’ve ever experienced, the REC is calling on business and the government to take urgent action to solve the problem.

Recruiters have a significantly higher number of roles to fill than before the pandemic, with three in five (58%) having at least 30% more vacancies than pre-pandemic. Of the 191 recruiters surveyed, almost all (97%) said that it was taking longer than usual to fill those vacancies, compounding the problem. Half (50%) reported that it now takes more than a month to find suitable candidates.

Recruiters reported several factors were affecting their ability to source candidates. The top reason was skills shortages (cited by 65% of respondents), followed by the new immigration rules (57%) and their clients not being able to offer competitive salaries (53%).

In response, the REC has set out a number of asks for both government and business to help solve this crisis:

  • Set up a cross-government forum including the Business, Education and Work and Pensions departments, as well as business organisations. This would restore the importance of workforce planning in the economic debate between business, government and other stakeholders, not only focusing on skills.
  • Broaden the apprenticeship levy and increase funding for training at lower skill levels. This would improve progression and transition opportunities for lower-skilled and temporary workers who need them most, and encourage business to do more here in the UK, not less.
  • Allow flexibility in the point-based immigration system and a visa route for lower-skilled workers, which would allow firms in the worst-affected sectors like logistics to access staff at times of pressing need.
  • Increased focus from businesses on workforce planning, staff engagement, attraction and retention policies. Firms need to raise workforce planning up to the senior leadership level, and work with key professional partners like recruiters to boost performance, productivity and staff wellbeing.

This also follows recent research from British Future, which found increasingly positive public attitudes towards immigration. Two thirds of the public (65%) agree that employers should be allowed to recruit from overseas for roles in shortage – showing that a more flexible immigration system would be popular as well as helping businesses to fill crucial vacancies.

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said:

“Worker shortages are a huge problem for employers and their recruitment partners, across all industries and regions. Vacancy numbers are far higher than pre-pandemic, and it is taking much longer to fill them. This is putting the recovery at risk by putting capacity constraints on the economy, as last week’s GDP figures showed. In our survey, recruiters also highlighted a wide range of factors that have combined to cause these shortages – this is a complex problem with no one easy fix.

“As such, we will only solve these shortages through a collaborative approach. We’re glad that multiple government departments are coming together in a joint forum to tackle the issue, but to be effective it must also include business and industry experts. Government must allow more flexibility in the immigration system so firms can hire essential workers like drivers from abroad, and also improve training opportunities for lower-paid and temporary workers. Meanwhile companies need to focus on how they will attract and retain staff through improved conditions and facilities, not just pay.”

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Employing older adults improves diversity in business 

A new study has shown that 10% of over 70s are choosing to go back to work or delay retirement as a result of the pandemic. This is a trend that could see billions of pounds poured back into the economy.  

According to the results from the study called “Back on Track”, by Retirement Villages Group slowing down is the last thing on the minds of older adults with one in three (36%) over 70s saying that they have spent the last 16 months reflecting on their life goals, leading to an increased desire to now make up for lost time in both their personal and professional lives. 

Going back to work, whether for financial reasons or in pursuit of a more purposeful and active lifestyle, has become important to many with 7% looking to return to work and 3% wanting to delay retirement.   

With skill shortages in mind, Retirement Villages Group has calculated that 10% of over 70s heading back to or staying in work could add as much as £1.8billion to the UK economy each year. Also importantly, as the older generation are overlooked during talent acquisition processes, this promotes a much-needed shift in perspective when it comes to the value and experience older candidates bring to a business.  

The study showed that continued employment for the older workforce comes with many personal benefits such as improving financial or mental health. Among those that have or plan to go back to work, over half (52%) agree that the main motive is to boost their finances, while a third would like to alleviate boredom and a 21% would like to continue to contribute to society.  

Over one in three (39%) said that seeing more age diversity in the workplace would give them greater confidence to consider working opportunities themselves. Yet, encouragingly, the research also found that one in four (27%) older adults believe the pandemic has led to a more widespread view that older people have valuable life skills that society can benefit from. 

Will Bax, CEO of Retirement Villages Group, commented: “Today’s research confirms that older adults have a critical role in ensuring the ongoing diversity and vibrancy of our society and economy. The pandemic has brought this reality into sharp focus, with many people over 70 forced to isolate for prolonged periods, curbing the active, independent and sociable lifestyles they would normally lead and temporarily separating them from communities. 

“It’s vital, as we unlock from the pandemic, that we continue to reappraise how we view the great contribution of people over 70 to our culture and economy. Independent, positive ageing matters – not only to the long-term health and wellbeing of individuals, by keeping people out of hospitals and care homes for longer – but also to our society which is enriched by older people playing an active part. 

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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Collaboration and communication are key skills  

According to new research from LinkedIn, 87% of UK business leaders stated that young workers have been plagued by a “developmental dip” because of long periods of time working from home during the pandemic.  

250 C-level executives in the UK (from companies with 1,000 employees and more and with an annual turnover of £250+ million) who were surveyed for the study, found that almost 30% of business leaders feel that onboarding from home has been a challenge for young employees. A further 42% of leaders believe that young people’s ability to build meaningful relationships with colleagues while working remotely has been difficult. 

Out of practice  

A complementary survey of young professionals showed that they agree. 69% of young people (aged 16 – 34) believe their professional learning experience has been impacted by the pandemic. More than half of those asked to return to offices feel their ability to make conversation at work has suffered, and 71% say they’ve forgotten how to conduct themselves in an office environment. 84% of young workers ultimately feel “out of practice” when it comes to office life, especially when it comes to giving presentations (29%) and speaking to customers and/ or clients (34%).  

Missing out 

Business leaders say the key development experiences that young people have missed out on during the pandemic include learning by “osmosis” from being around more experienced colleagues (36%), developing their essential soft skills (36%), and building professional networks (37%).  

Skills to succeed 

Business leaders believe that for hybrid working to be a success, collaboration (59%) and communication (57%) are the two most important skills employees need. Nearly half (49%) of leaders say working closely with experienced team members is the best way for young people to catch up and build these soft skills.  

Janine Chamberlin, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, said:  It’s positive to see leaders recognise the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on young people as they consider their future workplace policies. To help young people develop the skills they need to succeed, companies must understand where the skills gaps are, introduce mentoring schemes and bolster learning experiences that cater for a hybrid workforce to help younger workers get back on track.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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Businesses turned to freelancers most often for help with technology, digital marketing and design tasks over the past year, according to new research.

A survey of 15,000 freelancers by freelance jobs marketplace PeoplePerHour found freelancers across these three areas had been most in demand during the past 12 months. More specifically, web development, content writing and graphic design topped the list of tasks outsourced during the pandemic.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, Founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, said: “During the past 12 months, every aspect of normal life has changed, from how you do your shopping, to how you run your business.

“Many businesses have had to adapt and move online requiring specific skills and competencies at a given point in time, which makes using freelancers particularly attractive for many companies.”

In particular, the research found that many businesses had set up websites or ecommerce marketplaces for the first time over the past year, leading to web development, app development and coding skills becoming even more in demand than they were previously.

Companies had also increased their use of digital channels over the past year, seeking help from freelancers to write content and manage social media campaigns.

Graphic designers were also in high demand as businesses looked to boost their online presence with new logos, online brochures, posters and other creative material.

And due to the shift to home working and the downturn in some industries, some businesses had either cut back on staff or placed them on furlough, so turned to freelancers for business support such as sales or virtual assistance.

Thrasyvoulou said the strong demand for freelancers was especially welcome as many had been badly affected by the pandemic. “Small businesses and the self-employed have been some of the hardest-hit sectors, with less government support than those who are in full-time employment.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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