Hybrid working and recruiting | What you need to know to attract more talent

What you need to know to attract more talent

Andy Ingham, Senior Vice President, EMEA and APAC, Bullhorn

The pandemic has made clear that businesses can succeed without requiring employees to sit in the office from nine to five. Now, as it has become safer to return to the office, there’s a fierce debate occurring over the format that the future of work should take. Some feel that the ideal solution is to return to the office full time, while others advocate for a switch to entirely home working.

I feel strongly that an employee-centric “hybrid” or “flexible working” model – in industries that can support it – offers employees and businesses the best of both worlds and keeps everyone happy.

What does a successful hybrid working strategy look like?

Hybrid working is about more than simply telling employees to work however they choose. An effective approach centres employee freedom and doesn’t preference a specific way of working. If employees feel coerced to work from the office or from home, the policy won’t have the desired effect.

Since remote and office-based work are intrinsically different, providing benefits to make both appealing without tipping the scales in one direction is a challenge. The key is to understand the benefits that really matter to employees.

At Bullhorn, we have settled on a policy of maximum freedom. Almost all employees can choose where they work, no questions asked. To support this, we’re maintaining our in-office perks and providing a stipend for employees who intend to work at home some portion of the time so they can create a comfortable home office.

Benefits that matter to employees

Today’s employees – especially younger ones – demand benefits that improve their work-life balance, create a healthy culture, and meaningfully contribute to social causes. In short, flashy but insubstantial office benefits and online “forced fun” to keep remote workers satisfied simply don’t cut it – people want real balance.

Free snacks or drinks in the office can only go so far. Instead, businesses should focus on clear and effective mental health policies, subsidised gym memberships or exercise classes, and initiatives like flexible working. Every organisation’s circumstances are different, but it’s hard to go far wrong with commitments to maximising flexibility and respecting employees’ time.

How do these strategies attract talent?

Now that employees have experienced the variety of modes of working, many have learned what works best for them – and these preferences are increasingly informing their job search.

Given the acute skills shortages facing many industries, there is significant value in policies such as hybrid working that broaden the pool of potential candidates. A hybrid policy ensures that no candidate is turned away because the company rules don’t match their working preferences. Similarly, the freedom to work remotely also opens roles to candidates from further afield – those beyond commuting distance and even those in other countries – further expanding the talent pool.

Flexible work policies also signal attentiveness to employee wellbeing. Large scale surveys have demonstrated that modern employees are at least as concerned with work-life balance and mental health as they are with salary, and flexible working is a great way to demonstrate concern for employees.

Conversely, businesses that adopt these policies solely in an attempt to capitalise on current demand will face backlash. It’s always clear to prospective employees whether a business has honest motives for implementing a policy of flexible working – or whether it’s a means to an end.

Positioning flexible working to new hires

Businesses that are genuinely proud of the way they have implemented their flexible work policy have every right to use it to attract new talent. It’s a chance to differentiate from businesses that have taken different paths, and it says something about the way the organisation relates to employees.

To make clear that the business hasn’t just adopted the policy for the sake of it, consider including a few words about the reasoning behind it in the job posting. It’s also important to be upfront about any restrictions on flexibility that the role may entail, such as the requirement to be in the office for client meetings or to use certain systems.

In addition to sharing the letter of the company’s policies, it’s also valuable to offer some real-world examples. Examples like “this person works from home four days a week because they’re a new parent” or “these people like to come in more often to have lunch with colleagues” are impactful because they reveal how the policy works in practice and offer a glimpse of the organisation’s culture.

The future of work is flexible

Businesses that successfully implement flexible working are more likely to have a healthy culture and practice effective communication, as they can support workers across in multiple locations.

As the debate over the future of work rages on, I believe that the answer is clear: flexibility is the way forward. Employees want it, it delivers wellbeing benefits, and we’ve all seen that it can be effective.

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