There are seismic shifts going on in how we are working that are starting to filter to the world of recruitment. Certainly, in the leaders of the corporate jungle. They are shifts that every HR Director and business leader would do well to note.
Not only are the majority of employees at many companies working from home (or, frankly, anywhere); they are working from home productively. This is not news for anyone, but its impact on the near future of talent acquisition should not be underestimated. Some people are developing a taste for it that may well be difficult to relinquish.
While in the past companies have competed on salary and benefits, is the work-from-anywhere model becoming a key differentiator in the race for talent? With its “My Work Mode” flexible working scheme, Spotify seems to think so. It is far from alone.
Currently, the economic fallout of the pandemic has meant that recruitment freezes have seized many industries and where there is recruitment activity, quality applicants are relatively thin on the ground.
Yet, the pandemic has already shifted the boundaries of the workforce.
People who were considered too geographically remote by sourcing software or talent acquisition teams are suddenly there for turning. If the right role could be done on a remote basis, with maybe a few days every month in the office, then homeworking might become the norm? Amongst a myriad of other options. Consultants have been living this nomadic life for years, but what now the playing field has now broadened?
There is a larger potential talent pool, so how do organisations tap into it?
This challenge is the most exciting but also the most problematic. Many companies run a slick social media set up, but how do they identify potential recruits if these people have not been on their radar previously?
For me, an important answer is to shout louder about their desire to attract the brightest and best from further afield, get their people to become advocates for their flexible working practices and let the word get out organically. The list of people who love working in such a way will grow and if they broadcast their satisfaction to the world, the employer brand recognition will spread.
In terms of the recruitment process itself, candidates will need to be managed carefully.
How are candidate expectations changing? How might it impact hiring?
When flexible working or work-from-anywhere is mentioned in a job description, it means different things to different people. Are there international and geographical limits? How much time is spent in the office? How much flexibility is there in the working day? What is the company’s policy on working in evenings and on weekends?
How people “prefer” to work flexibly will become clear in the coming months and years, but those companies who research and stay ahead of the trends will ensure that they take the cream of the talent. Employers who have “fluid” flexible working will be less attractive than a company that says: “We know what you want, and this is how we do it”.
Actually, can executive search firms play a critical role?
When talent in a given industry niche is spread across a wider geographic area, a skilled executive search partner will be a valuable asset in the war for flexible talent. Their methods can be adopted to qualify and identify those who are a genuine fit for the client’s flexible working model and much of the ground work can be done at the long-list qualification stages. It isn’t hard to send a potential candidate a flexible working presentation and ask them whether it appeals. Talking through the minutiae of any move will be important, but search firms already have a feel for such details and should find themselves bringing a whole new level of value to the recruitment table.
Who knows when things might get back to normal, but I know one thing for sure:
The employers who are doing something about these questions are the ones who will win.
Technology goliaths are often the leaders in many people-related initiatives (because they need to attract the best of the best). They are adopting new flexible working policies and the rest of the market will follow them.
Get in touch to see how we can support your recruitment model adapting to this new normal.