Building talent for growth through flexible working – Part one
This week we have a guest blog from flexible recruitment specialists Capability Jane. Today they’re looking at how the world of work is changing and how the various generations now in the workplace have different expectations of their employers. Next week they’ll be writing about the benefits flexible working can bring.
Business consultancies need to be particularly responsive to what their workforce and potential workforce finds attractive as, unlike many other businesses, their product is their people. Recruiting and retaining the right people can make all the difference to a consultancy’s growth. Attrition is an expensive and time consuming factor to deal with, so it’s worth investing time in developing an attractive job offer, which is not just about remuneration.
Government research into the obstacles to success for SMEs found that internal capacity and capability was a major factor holding firms back. Twenty-eight per cent reported that a shortage of skills was an obstacle to their business success. For larger businesses, one in five said that finding staff was their biggest barrier to growth. Businesses ignore these issues at their peril.
The world of work is changing. By 2020, most baby boomers will have retired, while Generation Y will dominate employment, comprising 42% of the workforce. For many of these tech savvy workers, currently aged between 18 and 32, part time, flexible and freelance working patterns are the norm. If employers want to retain their skills, they need to open their eyes to a move away from traditional full time employment. Smart consultancies will already be looking to respond to the needs of these workers.
Part time and flexible working has often been pigeonholed as a female issue, specifically centred around working mums. Indeed, there is considerable demand for flexible and part time options amongst this group. Perhaps surprisingly, however, there is a considerable demand from men too.
The leaking pipeline of talent is costing employers dearly – on average 150% of the employee’s annual salary, going up to 200% for a senior role. Our research has found that for an employer with around 3,500 head office staff, the cost to replace lost senior level talent, due to lack of part time working options, equates to over $9m per annum.
Fear of losing the skills your company already has is not the only reason to look beyond the traditional full time, permanent 9-5 contract option. A unique challenge for the future workplace in the next 10 to 15 years is the presence of four generations of workers. Research has shown that the ability to work flexibly and part time is a key requirement for attraction and retention of workers across the generational groups. Those companies that don’t understand the appeal of flexible working may well miss out on the best and brightest staff. And with competition already hot for the best people in the consultancy sector, those not responding to these challenges are missing a trick.
It is clear that the consulting industry is starting to recognise this. Three of the top ten companies that have been awarded the working families benchmark are large consultancies; namely EY, Deloitte and KMPG. Smaller consultancies should look to these firms as an example as they have integrated flexible working successfully. In fact, it can be easier for small consultancies to offer flexible working as they are less constrained by formal procedures. Larger consultancies that have these polices in place may find it harder to embed them in their culture as they will have to convince more line managers about the value of flexible working.
The age of connectivity is upon us and the world of work is changing faster than ever before. In the past workers were shackled to a 9-5 lifestyle in a bricks and mortar office through necessity rather than choice. Now technology is enabling the collaboration and sharing of content with anyone, whenever and wherever it’s needed. Cloud technology and the birth of communication tools such as Google Hangouts, Skype and Facetime mean that employees can be anywhere in the world and still be in ‘the office’. However, flexibility on both sides is key. Working part time is not always easy and consultants that choose this path will often have to do at least 10% more overtime than their peers. To meet the necessary challenges and deliver the service that clients expect, part time consultants often have to leave the office earlier and work in the evenings. For this to work successfully, their colleagues and clients will have to understand and agree to this.
Since the 30th June 2014, every employee in the UK has the right to request flexible working. So with the future already here it’s essential that consultancies don’t miss out on growth due to not having the right people. Offering flexible working options could be one of the best things that your company could do today.
Capability Jane helps innovative and flexible organizations source talented executives on a flexible, part-time or job share basis and access a more diverse pool of candidates. Call 0845 604 1916 for more information.
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