The working parent: maternity, SPL & the untapped pool

Discussing some of the issues faced by today’s working parent…

Maternity returners are lacking confidence & left unsupported

Less than 1/5 of management-level professionals feel confident about re-entering the workplace after their maternity leave, reports People Management.

What’s more, over 1/3 of this group consider leaving their role due to feeling ‘unsupported and isolated on their return’. 90% additionally say their company provide no formal support or ‘returnship’ focus whatsoever.

The CIPD encourages businesses to provide senior level job-sharing opportunities, alongside increased flexible working, to further support these employees.

Shared parental leave take-up remains incredibly low

Of the 285,000 couples who qualify for shared parental leave (‘SPL’) annually, only 2% take advantage of this opportunity. Why is this and are employers to blame (asks HR Magazine)?

The article cites a variety of possible factors. These include:

  • Mothers not actually wishing to share their leave with their partners
  • Health factors, including the mother’s need to recover from pregnancy or birth
  • The perceived impact on fathers’ careers
  • Cultural values around ‘being the breadwinner’
  • Lack of SPL promotion at work
  • Complex workplace policies

The single working parent: the ‘untapped talent pool’

Single working parents are more likely to be unemployed than any other primary employee group, says HR Review. In fact, their unemployment rate is now two and a half times that of the British average.

Unfortunately, the new-employment rate for the single working parent has actually declined over the past five years.

These stats come from Indeed – and the company is advising businesses to consider the group as a major untapped talent pool. With 845,000 national vacancies to fill, and record national employment rates, they suggest this may be one possible solution to overcoming the skills shortage.

Once again, the notion of increased flexible and remote working is discussed.

They also reference disabled and minority ethnic employees as further talent pools. Positively, national employment rates for both of these groups have increased over the past five years.

Appoint welcomes recruitment enquiries from each of the discussed employee groups, as well as those looking to do more to attract and support them. For initial advice, please call the office on 01225 313130 or email us via the address. Here’s what to include in your cover email as a candidate.

Career priorities: what matters most?

What are your career priorities? The Oxford Open Learning Trust has researched the factors deemed most important when looking for a new job…

The top five considerations currently include:

  1. Salary/pay (64%)
  2. Working hours (55%)
  3. Working location / Personal interest or enjoyment (tied at 50%)
  4. Job security (40%)
  5. Working environment (37%)

You can find the full top 10 over at HR News.

Career priorities: working hours

The second place spot particularly caught our attention. Not only because it was discussed by more than half of respondents, yet also the way it chimes with other research on this topic.

Over on the Independent, we hear how more than 1/2 of British workers would prefer to move away from the standard ‘9 to 5’ job. Instead, they would welcome the opportunity to either:

  • Start work before 9am, enabling them to finish before 5pm (57%)
  • Work longer hours in order to shorten the length of the working week (48%)

As HR News suggests, professionals would clearly like to carve out some extra time for themselves in a bid to achieve an improved work-life balance.

Looking outside the UK

Have other countries managed to achieve this balance? The stats would suggest so, with countries offering the most flexible working opportunities also scoring higher on employee happiness and engagement ratings.

Identifying your own career priorities

This is an aspect we highly recommend spending some time thinking about. Especially if you’re ready to search for a new job, or think you may be ready to do so soon.

Knowing your priorities really helps you refine your job search; especially if you’re considering one of a few possible career paths.

You’ll see this topic is discussed further in our 7 Days of Job Hunting Tips…an essential guide for anyone wanting to stand out from the (candidate) crowd!

Staff rewards: realistic ways to show thanks

You may remember that an increased focus on staff rewards appeared in our 2018 recruitment predictions – and it’s made the national news multiple times since!

We’ve already discussed how important it is for businesses to promote their work perk offering. The UK skills shortage certainly makes it all the more vital for employers to hone their staff attraction strategies.

In addition, we’ve compared the most sought-after (non-monetary!) benefits against those that employees are currently receiving.

Realistic staff rewards…

Well, today we’ll consider a number of realistic employee benefits that businesses might be overlooking. The rewards in question come from an HR Review article, featuring

1) Increased annual leave

The article references the growing trend towards unlimited holiday offerings. (When we say growing, HR News recently reported on this and state that 9% of global businesses are using such an incentive. So, it’s right at the emerging sense of the word).

However, as they suggest, few SMEs will feel able to factor this into their benefits package. Yet they are far more likely to be able to offer an additional day or two of leave. Whether that’s as thanks for another year’s service, a well done for hitting a particular target, or appreciation of efforts made.

Let’s not forget that this perk also came number one on the most desired of all non-monetary benefits.

2) Healthcare packages

Private healthcare is a reassuring bonus for single workers and those with families alike. It is also said to benefit businesses, by helping to minimise absenteeism.

3) Fitness incentives

Our city’s offices aren’t all set up for on-site gyms (however lovely they may sound!), yet budgets can often extend to a monthly gym membership or similar. CIPHR has an excellent article on why this is so worthwhile for employers.

4) Free food!

This suggestion often crops up in the news, as we all appreciate the easy availability of some fresh food and drinks on a busy working day. There are a variety of companies that offer fresh fruit and snack boxes throughout the area… Google ‘Office fruit bowls Bath’ and you’ll soon see!

5) Flexible working opportunities

When we said increased annual leave came top of the work perk wish-list, the number one spot was also shared by sabbaticals and flexible working hours.

This is an element that is widely considered to enhance staff attraction and retention while increasing employee happiness.

6) Home working opportunities

The HR Review piece suggests this can help ‘break the monotony of the working week and increase levels of productivity‘. It can be healthy to get a change of scenery from time to time. Plus, this is about as realistic as staff rewards come, as it shouldn’t cost the company anything if work is still being completed.

7) Letting the weekend start early

Research suggests Friday afternoons are the least productive time of the working week, so it’s surely the best day to allow employees to finish work an hour or so sooner. If this wouldn’t work for all staff on a weekly basis, you could experiment with a fortnightly or monthly incentive. Or perhaps a rota for early finishes in micro businesses.

8) Team outings

Featured suggestions include regular staff drinks or meals or even trips further afield. Simply offering employees the chance to let their hair down and interact outside of the standard business setting.

9) Staff training 

We know ongoing training is imperative for the success of businesses as we look to the future world of work. Offering individual training budgets is also an excellent way to show appreciation for your staff – and express a continued interest in their personal development and future with your company. Tailoring training to individual needs takes this a big step further.

Report: 10 years of changing workplace trends

How workplace trends have changed, according to the findings of a 10-year study…

The purpose of this study is to explore how ‘Alternative Workplaces’ have influenced and impacted today’s businesses.

About ‘Alternative Workplaces’:

  • This label applies to any “non-traditional work practices, settings and locations that supplement or replace traditional offices.” For instance, the flexible working, remote working and shared office spaces that we’re all now familiar with.
  • This research commenced in 2008 when Alternative Workplaces (‘AW’) really were alternative.
  • The 2018 report marks the fifth biennial study of its type.
  • These latest findings come from 130 companies, employing in the region of 2.3 million employees worldwide.

Key workplace trends:

The primary motivations for implementing AW have changed dramatically over the past 10 years.

  • In 2011, soon after the recession, Cost Savings came joint top of the list alongside Business Agility (72% each). Cost Savings then plummeted by 34%, yet returned to second place in the latest survey (63%).
  • Employee Productivity is now in first place (64%).
  • The authors recognise that the core drivers tend to reflect the economic picture. In other words, today’s focus on staff depicts an improved economy and employment market.

Yet drivers also vary by the formality of the arrangement.

  • Businesses with formal AW programmes are vastly more likely to value Cost Savings (first place/76% versus 9th place/28% for informal programmes).
  • Also in the top five, businesses with formal programmes state that collaboration, attraction/retention, health/well-being and productivity are their most important motivations.
  • Conversely, productivity comes in first place for 86% of Informal AW programmes. This is followed by work-life balance, attraction/retention, agility, and health/wellbeing.
  • This reflects the tailoring of aims towards business goals as programmes mature and develop.

Internal mobility is on the increase!

  • The practice of ‘internal mobility’, where employees don’t have a designated seat yet rather work in and around a set building, has increased by 10% in four years, taking this up to 1 in 5 businesses.
  • External mobility (where the person doesn’t have a designated seat and also works on the road or spends 1-2 days each week working from home/client offices/satellite offices) has, however, reduced by almost the same amount in this period.
  • The number of people working from home 3 or more days a week has also reduced, although by just 3% (to a total of 6%).
  • Almost half of all employees still have their own designated workspace (48%).
  • It is suggested that businesses are making their workplaces more appealing. And, as the authors say, ‘people are happy to be mobile but they still want a place to call home.’

Employees may not be involved as much as they should be.

  • Respondents were asked how their employees were incorporated into planning, implementing and evaluating AW programmes. The results were as follows:
  • Ongoing evaluation, such as surveys (61%).
  • Choice of specific AW offerings, such as remote working (50%).
  • Planning the programme, including work styles and places (36%).
  • Choosing supportive technologies (22%).
  • The report states that the reduced involvement at the planning stage ‘could be a dangerous trend towards trying to shortcut the AW implementation process’. It’s recommended that involvement is increased via the use of champion groups (compiling feedback from others).

 Employees are no less productive! 

  • Previously, employers have worried that remote workers will not be as productive as in-house staff. However, this concern is now only shared by 5% of businesses.
  • That said, overworking has become the primary AW problem; an issue affecting 56% of respondents. Past surveys have also reflected this to a lesser degree, yet it may have been amplified by the increased ‘attention to people factors’.
  • Respondents are also increasingly struggling to obtain feedback from their managers. It is speculated that this may relate to the fact managers are also adopting AW ways!
  • The authors recommend that both managers and employees are, therefore, trained in how to work in AW settings. In addition, they say ‘stop worrying whether your remote employees are actually working. Like everyone else, they should be measured by results and outcomes’.

These are only some of the fascinating findings on how workplace trends have evolved over the past 10 years; as a result of the AW offerings at our disposal. You can download the full report via the Advanced Workplace Associates website.

7 of the latest features on shifting workplace trends:

  1. The empathy economy
  2. Training for the future
  3. Your future job – and reasons to feel optimistic about it!
  4. Why customer service employees will be most in-demand
  5. The career skills you’ll need by 2020
  6. Measuring your soft skills
  7. The secret of success: for job-seekers, colleagues, managers & bosses!


This year’s research comes courtesy of Advanced Workplace Associates, Global Workplace Analytics and Haworth, with the support of Workplace Evolutionaries. Research from 2008-2014 was conducted by New Ways of Working in association with Haworth.

The flexible workforce: latest news

Will a flexible workforce be the ‘normal’ workforce of the future? We explore three of the latest features on this topic

1) The flexible workforce: not just for women

Source: HR News

Alexander Mann Solutions is calling for businesses to offer a ‘culture of flexibility’ across the entire workforce. Traditionally, the focus has predominantly been placed on working mothers.

This change is intended to increase employee attraction, engagement and retention. It also answers the recent ‘Fathers in the Workplace’ report. The report suggests that men are perceived more negatively than women when making flexible working requests.

Please visit the HR News article for further findings.

2) The flexible workforce: maintaining company culture

Source: Personnel Today

Our next article responds to the oft-discussed Taylor Review. In this piece, Thomson Online Benefits explores the subject of company culture.

The company says, ‘…fundamental shifts in working practices are both an opportunity and a challenge for the UK’. A more flexible workforce may be part of these opportunities.

Companies are once again reminded of the staff retention benefits. Something that also naturally supports business revenue. On top of this, when working flexibly, more businesses are able to move away from traditional offices…and their costs!

But let’s return to the issue of company culture. The piece discusses how workers can feel more disconnected from their employers when there is a physical absence. Employers are, therefore, encouraged to prioritise a sense of connection.

Other opportunities and challenges are discussed here.

3) The flexible workforce: for happy employees

Source: UKTN

The UK is ‘lagging behind’ its American and Australian counterparts when it comes to flexible working.

  • 10% of UK businesses do not offer any flexible working options at all.
  • 30% of companies have fewer than 1/4 flexible working staff.

Yet survey respondents believe flexible working benefits collaboration, communication and productivity (due to happier employees!), alongside reduced overheads.

Employees may still be placing some importance on where they’re working. That said, alternative flexible working solutions are available. This includes the growing use of open plan offices and hot-desking.

You can read the piece in full on the UKTN website.

Thoughts from Bath…

This isn’t the first time we’ve covered flexible working. In our most recent roundup, we discuss your flexi working options here in Bath (and surrounding!).

Reading this as a local business? Flexible working is one of a number of staff attraction and retention strategies that can offer a significant competitive advantage. To discuss how a more flexible workforce may suit your recruitment needs, please call the office on 01225 313130.

Popular Posts of 2017!

Sharing 11 of our most popular posts of the year…

With less than two weeks until the festivities fully commence, we thought it the perfect time to reflect on the items you’ve all been reading this year.

In no particular order, we have:

1) Flexible working news. 

There’s something so intriguing about the concept of flexi working. Often we’re all wondering whether it’s actually working, who it’s working for, and whether it could work for us (business owner and workers included)! This post shares flexible working stats, alongside some local options.

2) Interview research: your must-know guide.

Experienced interviewers can fast tell the difference between a cursory glance at the corporate site and some detailed interview prep. Our interview research guide steers you towards the latter – helping you beat your competition along the way!

3) Millennials choose SME employers.

We hazard a guess it’s the local relevance that grabs the attention with this one. After all, the Bath business community is (rightly!) proud of its strong SME culture. Plus, it’s always interesting to see the differences in career ambitions among demographic groups.

4) What to take to a recruitment agency

One of our more practical posts for job-seekers. We help you feel more confident ahead of your visit, whether you’re doing the agency rounds, looking to register, or you’re booked in for a registration appointment.

5) What is it like to work in recruitment?

We always enjoy peeking behind-the-scenes of other industries, so it wasn’t a surprise to see this post among our most-read items. We also relished the chance to pop this one together – and to look back over our past 18 years in the city!

6) Career change advice

Who doesn’t like a fresh start from time to time? So many job-seekers are looking for ways to diversify their careers. We discuss whether it’s feasible to do so…plus steps you might want to take.

7) Tell me about yourself.

It’s back to interview advice and one burning question that can all too easily catch you out. Thankfully, there’s such a simple three-step formula when it comes to cracking this one!

8) What the Skills Shortage means for you.

This is the single post that we’ve referred back to the most this year, as the topic has remained so present in the national news. We explain what the skills shortage is and break down its meaning (and opportunities!) for job-seekers and employers.

9) Creative side projects

You don’t have to feel creative to be creative and there’s actually a good career/business case for developing your potential. This post also takes a local twist, with seven nearby pursuits for you to get involved with.

10) Social snooping

As GDPR creeps closer, everyone’s starting to ask questions about its future recruitment impact. Does this spell the legal end of candidate research by social media?

11) Welcoming new starters

Finally, we have our post on ‘onboarding’ new recruits – including the whys and hows of getting this right. It’s something we always advocate and would be delighted to assist you with.

We hope you enjoy catching up on these news items and look forward to sharing many more. Coming soon: job searching tips for anyone looking to use the festive break to their advantage. Plus a special New Year’s series that we’re eager to share!

How do you feel about your commute?

Our daily commute is getting us down according to two leading HR magazines. How do you feel about yours?

1) HRnews – ‘Is it time to boot the commute?

Our first piece highlights some eye-opening stats:

  • 24 million people regularly commute for 56 minutes a day, with 3.4 million commuting for two hours or more. This can equate to 400 days in a lifetime.
  • The average person now spends £146 a month on their commute or £135,871 across the course of their working life (that’s £305 and £200,000 for Londoners).

It’s not just these stats that made the article stand out. Rather the post also explores the mental and physical consequences of this lifestyle choice.

What’s more, it takes a look at the impact that our daily travel has on our wider working practices. Including how this is shaping the shift towards more flexible working arrangements and an increase in staff fitness incentives.

2) HR Magazine – ‘Employees tempted to leave by shorter commutes

In a separate study conducted by Vodafone, workers were asked how they felt about their travel arrangements. It turns out 60% of people would opt for a shorter or less frequent commute (with the findings split almost evenly between these two alternatives).

The reasons for this are unevenly divided between a desire to save money (30%) and the fact it would be more productive (70%).

Unsurprisingly, Vodafone has used these findings to support the argument for remote working with some tech support. The company suggests productivity could be increased by up to 20% by using such methods. They also support the idea of flexible working for the ‘talent attraction and retention’ benefits.

On a similar note…

Both of the above posts support stats shared in other recent news items. It provides further evidence of the increased demand for flexible working options, while also demonstrating another reason that employees feel they lack spare time.

Such news items are helping to build a greater picture of our daily lives and the challenges faced by today’s worker.

Of course it’s not always easy to find a role close to home; especially if you are following a specialist or niche career path. Often it’s a case of prioritising your core working values and what’s most appropriate at this time.

To start exploring what’s right for you, please visit our jobs page and/or submit your CV today.

Flexible working news

Discussing two of the latest flexible working news pieces. Are there enough flexible working jobs and how is this affecting career progression?

Greater demand than jobs market can satisfy!

The majority (64%) of workers would choose to work flexibly if they could. But fewer than a tenth of jobs paying an annual salary of £20,000 or more currently advertise this option.

These are the findings reported in Personnel Today. The stats relate to those currently in full-time non-flexible, roles. Although 63% of the survey respondents are actually already working flexibly (with 40% saying this is part of an informal working agreement).

As recently discussed, millennials are especially keen to obtain flexible working opportunities.

The overall demand is unsurprisingly fuelled by an interest in work-life balance – including juggling commuting, caring responsibilities and/or study time.

Mums need the balance yet lack progression opportunities

Work-life balance for mothers is the focus of our second news piece; this time published by The Voice.

47% of working mothers believe flexible working has hampered their career progression, as opposed to the 28% believing the opposite.

The findings also express concerns around judgement from colleagues, alongside feelings of discrimination.

Despite this, more than half of women value their flexible working opportunities and worry these could be removed.

Your flexible working options in Bath:

  1. You should always feel able to discuss flexible working opportunities with your Recruitment Consultant. The best Consultants will obtain extensive insights into their clients’ working policies and, therefore, be able to help you approach those employers supportive of your needs.
  2. By law, most employees who’ve completed more than 26 weeks’ service hold the right to make a flexible working request. In some cases, this request will be of a temporary nature to accommodate a transient personal need.
  3. We also recruit for a range of part-time roles to benefit employer and employee alike.
  4. Temporary and/or contract work can be another great option for candidates with changing circumstances. In these cases, short-term roles and set term contracts allow increased flexibility. It is always worth sending a CV for future consideration (whether or not there is an immediate opening). You can select Temporary and Contract options via the ‘Position’ dropdown on our Jobs page.

Millennials choose SME employers

Why do millennials choose SME employers over their larger counterparts? Exploring the latest stats and what these mean for Bath…

Almost half (47%) of millennials say SME businesses represent their ideal employer size. Conversely, just 19% favour a larger employer, according to research shared by HR Review.

What is an SME business?

‘SME’ stands for Small to Medium Enterprises – with such businesses employing anywhere from 1 to 249 staff members.

‘Millennials’ (also known as ‘Generation Y’) commonly refers to anyone born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s.

So, what’s the attraction of an SME?

The research explores both respondents’ working values and expectations in relation to businesses of different sizes. The findings show:

  • Flexible working hours is the most desired working benefit among millennials. Furthermore, it’s one that 43% believe to be a characteristic of SMEs.
  • This was followed by career progression, higher salaries, and friendlier working cultures. Again, each of these being benefits perceived more likely within an SME.

You can find the full stats on HR Review.

What does this mean for Bath?

As discussed in our Career Change special, SME business dominates the South-West. The 2016 ONS stats say 103,370 companies employed 0-4 people. Clearly, vastly more than the region’s 505 employing more than 250 last year.

Once again, we must consider the meaning of such stats. This research is based on people’s values and perceptions, rather than employers’ specific offerings. Not all SME businesses are in the position to provide each of the most desired benefits, after all.

Yet this doesn’t mean that these results are not of value to local job-seekers or employers…

  • As an employer: you’re receiving an insight into (some of!) a generation’s core values. This becomes valuable when tailoring an attractive and competitive recruitment offering – something we can help you achieve.
  • As a job-seeker: firstly you can feel confident that there are many SME opportunities throughout the region. Visit our latest jobs listings for more. Yet it’s also a great reminder to consider your working values. What do you most need from your next role; what will allow you to truly commit to a permanent position? Your Recruitment Consultant will be able to advise on what is most realistic at this time and any recruiting clients you are most suited to.

For further advice on your recruitment plans, please call the office on 01225 313130.

Business confidence, the Queen’s Speech & flexible working

Exploring the HR and recruitment news headlines you may have missed from around the web…

Business confidence is surging!

Business confidence is at an 18-month peak – and this is despite the ‘most difficult recruitment situation for a decade’. This is based on a survey conducted by Lloyds Bank, as reported by City A.M.

Sales and profit expectations have risen to a ‘24% positive’, according to the Lloyds Bank Index. These findings follow a 12% fall shortly after the Brexit results.

Tim Hinton of Lloyds Bank suggests businesses are well equipped to work within such challenging times, “taking it in their stride and staying focused on what they can control.”

You can find out more about the national Skills Shortage (and solutions!) here

How the Queen’s Speech affects HR and Recruitment

You may have spotted many discussions regarding the Queen’s Speech. Well, the CIPD neatly summarises how this will affect HR.

Naturally, Brexit is at the heart of much of the forthcoming change. While HR Managers and business owners are recommended to read this in full, we can summarise that:

  • New policies will be established on immigration, yet employers are concerned by ‘access to talent’.
  • The National Living Wage (NLW) will increase.
  • However, a pay cap will be introduced for the public sector. This applies to salaried workers.
  • The government is looking to enhance workers’ rights and protections.
  • Additionally, the gender pay gap and discrimination will form the focus of ‘further progress.’

The article also references those pledges that didn’t make the speech.

Flexible Working this Summer 

Finally, the ‘Smarter Working Initiative’ returns to the UK. Its second year starts on the first day of the school Summer holidays.

Businesses are encouraged to offer employees one day of flexible working. This includes working from any location and at the hours of their choosing.

This is an awareness campaign to show the wider benefits of flexible working. And the approach holds clear economic potential, as 70% of employees say such opportunities would ‘increase the attractiveness of a job’.

The first campaign saw more than 100,000 workers (and 115 organisations) participate.

Full details can be found via LinkedIn.