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Recruiting in a hybrid world: do you know what you’re doing?

The word ‘normal’ is unlikely to ever have quite the same meaning again in our emerging post-pandemic world.

We’re obviously not out the other side yet, and there will be a lot more bedding down into the new normal still to come.

However, what we do know is that the world of work has shifted in a way that won’t see a return to the way things were.

The hybrid workplace is here to stay: where physical premises and the employee’s home workspace take equal and vital importance.

This poses unique challenges for employers in multiple ways. However, within the recruitment arena, it presents very distinct issues, hurdles and realities.

We’re seeing this emerge in three distinct ways: the extra care that’s needed throughout the onboarding process, particularly with senior and executive level recruitment; the legalities affecting the hybrid working model, much of which many are unfamiliar with, and; what needs to be done going forwards, to enable success, following a new appointment.

In the coming weeks I will be releasing a series of videos addressing these very issues in more depth. However, for now it’s important to understand why a new approach is necessary.

What’s changed for onboarding since Covid-19?

It’s important that you don’t simply dismiss the changes to the workplace, recruitment and onboarding as being short-term and reversible.

The reality is that many of the changes that we’ve seen were already at least partially in the pipeline before coronavirus reared its ugly head.

The fact is that this is the new reality and we need to adapt our ways of meeting talent needs to what’s here to stay.

Let me first point out that before Covid arrived, remote working was already on the rise in the UK. In the decade leading up to 2017 (so well before Covid) we were already seeing a change with an increase of a quarter of a million workers moving into remote working.

It’s actually a very tricky area of data to pin down, not least because it’s been quite a moveable feast over the last year. However, a very recent report from YouGov and Microsoft Surface called Work Smarter to Live Better reveals that now, as things settle down, 9 out of 10 businesses have adapted to hybrid working.

However, I want to dig a little deeper into the available information here because it’s not just a case of comparing like with like.

Hybrid working involves marrying two elements: working on site and working remotely (fundamentally from home). We make a mistake if we simply equate the two, believing them to be the same bar a physical location.

And it’s this that we really need to understand when it comes to considering how onboarding is now a very different game.

Working in the office v working from home

In the hybrid model, the core understanding is that some work will be done from the office and some from home (remote). Parking ‘why’ this is desired or necessary, let’s just compare these two for a moment.

We know that 56% of workers are happier when they are working from home. But we mustn’t stop there with our understanding. Because whilst the majority may feel happier, the data also reveals that homeworkers are being stretched much further with 30% reporting that they work longer hours from home. Indeed 53% say they feel they have to be available at all times. 65% miss socialising with their colleagues.

Some of this will be alleviated with the hybrid model, but fundamentally that’s simply not sustainable if we are going to use homeworking for the long term.

Then there’s some pretty startling data recently available from the ONS. Whilst those who are able to do some work from home generally have much higher levels of pay, there are some issues again when we dig deeper.

Pre-Covid, if you worked from home it would appear you were less than half as likely to be promoted. You were 38% less likely to receive a bonus. And you probably did nearly double the amount of unpaid overtime on average, particularly working well into the evening.

Employers fundamentally get a good deal, no matter what preconceived ideas they had about homeworking. One statistic that really highlights this is that the sickness absence rate for homeworkers is well under half of that for those who work on site.

So we have this funny situation whereby employees at home work harder and longer for less reward and care from their employer.

How’s this going to work out when we make homeworking, as part of the hybrid model, a more mainstream permanent change?

As employers, we need to be aware of this and use this knowledge to shape our approach, particularly when it comes to onboarding new senior staff.

Onboarding senior staff in the hybrid working world

Ben Wilmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD said: “Senior leaders need to role model the behaviours they expect of others and businesses focus more on equipping managers with the people management skills they need to manage and support home and remote workers. I did a video post on this topic last year.

Employers also need to do more to provide more flexible working opportunities to people whose jobs mean they can’t work from home, through greater use of practices such as flexi-time, job sharing and compressed and annualised hours.”

This means we have to get our recruitment of senior leadership right for this new framework. And that brings me back to the three elements we need to consider for onboarding in the hybrid world that I will be discussing in my videos:

▪ Extra care

Insight and diligence to find exactly the right people for the changed working world we now live in using new and adapted recruitment processes, as well as extra care to bring them onboard securely.

▪ Legal implications

We need understanding of how to operate legally as an employer with employees partially in the office and partially at home, with regard to every aspect, from health and safety to contractual requirements. Specifically we need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers posed by hybrid working to equality, diversity and inclusion.

▪ Ongoing support and action

Knowledge and support to retain and nurture talent within the framework of what we know about homeworking vs. office working. Ongoing people management is going to be of huge importance if we aren’t to lose the very talent we’ve put more effort into recruiting.

Understandably, organisations need even more support from their recruitment partners in order to successfully navigate this hybrid world.

You’ll need a premium service whereby you get one to one support to both identify the appropriately skilled and talented individuals and secure them, but also maintain the long-term fit and outcome.

Watch this space to learn more in my videos soon or call/email me to talk through the support and help you need to recruit/be recruited.


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