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  • Rachel Doyle

How to stand out in a crowded market - time to adapt to flexible working

There is no secret that hiring in 2022 is hard work - not only because there is the competition from other businesses as hiring freezes have been dropped after 12 - 18months. Those businesses that did try to hire during the first 6 - 9 months of COVID were struggling to attract candidates. Many candidates elected to sit and wait to see what happens, staying put in their businesses.

Now it’s very much back to business and as we’ve written about in recent weeks, competition is fierce. So how do you stay competitive and build an engaging employer brand that candidates are excited to apply to and want to join?

It’s not salary that is purely motivating candidates right now

We touched on the key things that are motivating candidates right now and in 2022, flexible working and wellbeing are top of the pile. It’s no secret that everyone from businesses to candidates have sought to re-think work. Employees are exhausted by long commutes and wasted hours on trains, preferring to get time back to spend precious time with family and friends or to start their working day earlier from the comfort of their home. Much of this motivation still exists and we are seeing candidates primarily asking about what the working arrangements are, over salary and benefits. Where candidates do enquire about benefits, the focus isn’t on company car or pension, it is about wellbeing and health.

That’s not to say that salary doesn’t count - it does

Salary does of course matter but when a candidate is faced with two businesses that are offering the same salary - it will be the benefits that will sway them. So don’t think that you can offer flexibility and that a candidate will take a pay cut from their current role. Competition is fierce for candidates and businesses are pulling out the stops to get talent through their door.

Mental health matters

It is great to see that companies are investing time and money into training mental health first aiders and candidates are keen to hear what wellbeing policies are in place for them in a business. For a candidate they are weary of long working hours and other pressures that have arisen from the new remote / hybrid work environment model. They will want to know what the working expectations are, whether you are an always on type culture and if they are working from home, what the boundaries are like. This may be a challenging question to answer, but one that candidates really want to know more about.

Flexible working really is the holy grail

Candidates want their time back, they want the freedom to choose what hours they work and to do more with their family, friends or even for themselves. They don’t want to spend hours getting to an office, nor do they want to squeeze their fitness regime or walk with the dog into a lunchtime slot. A lot of re-evaluation of what work means to employees and how they can fit their lives into and around it went on during the pandemic. Those businesses that fail to offer enough flexibility and remote working are struggling to fill their roles. The missing link here is that micromanaging a team and needing to see bums on seats in an office does not mean that your teams will be more productive. Far from it. Employees are experienced enough and can be trusted to make their own decisions about where they do their best work. We have to start enabling our employees to make these choices. For one that might be working 3 days a week from home, for another a full week in the office, another it may well be fully remote. The key here is to have motivated individuals who have the ability to work where they do their best work meaning where they are most productive. Ideas may well flow through office conversations and in person discussions, but it doesn’t mean that this cannot also happen through online meetings, telephone calls or chat applications. Many international organisations have teams that work cross border remotely and who are also delivering results for the company.

There is such a cross section in the approach here. Deloitte announced in 2021 that it would give all of its employees in the UK the ability to work from home forever. Goldman Sachs wants to see everyone back in the office. The perception being that it inhibits relationship building. The reality is down to the divergent cultures of these two businesses and that is where the differences will lie. Businesses need to start demonstrating that they trust their employees to do the work and the results will speak for themselves. Relationships are formed wherever, as noted above, international businesses work successfully with clients and colleagues across borders and offices. The same with clients - a face to face meeting is helpful but conversations are still possible on the telephone and via digital means.

Recruiting genius

If you want to ensure that you remain competitive in the job market you will need to offer flexible working and to attract the top talent, in most cases fully remote. If you can’t do this, don’t tell candidates that it is a fully remote opportunity and then ask them in the interview if they can come into the office a couple of days a week. In those situations, with candidates holding most of the cards right now, they will stick to what is right for them.

If you are looking for some advice in relation to recruitment and what you can do to position your employer brand to attract talent, get in touch with Auxeris. Our network of specialist recruiters are experienced at placing talented candidates, particularly in the most recent months. They are adept at building meaningful relationships with candidates and clients and will support you through your hiring journey. Get in touch today to find out more here.

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