Young workers lead the flexible working movement

How younger professionals are driving the flexible working movement. Also featuring some of the latest flexible work news…

Over the weekend, The Independent shared an interesting post titled ‘Young workers are leading the way out of the office.’

It describes some of the current business trends for young professionals both in America and Britain. This includes:

  • Changing jobs for improved work-life balance (as opposed to a title change or step up the career ladder).
  • Prioritising flexible work opportunities; allowing employees to focus on other needs, such as their children, hobbies, and pets.
  • In fact, increasing numbers of employees are actually ‘demanding flexibility’ in their roles.
  • Requesting benefits such as paid paternity leave, ‘generous’ holiday allowance, the chance to work remotely, etc.

A mixed response…

Some may perceive this as a push towards less work or softer working lifestyles. However, proponents argue that this approach says ‘I will work harder and/or more’ if you support a more balanced lifestyle.

The article cites a number of reasons why younger employees are driving this work-life balance focus:

  • They’ve been born into a highly technological world in which they can see other ways of working rather than staying at one desk for set working hours.
  • Other lifestyle choices, such as marrying and babies, are happening later meaning they are ‘more invested’ in their career path by the time they make these decisions and, therefore, know what they want to ask for.
  • Millennials represent the first generation to observe large numbers of women, including family members, live professional working lives. Many have also observed the challenges their parents have faced due to ‘inflexible employers or unstable jobs’.

The piece also raises the notion that more flexible work and other work-life balance improvements could benefit all working generations – saying ‘change the system so we can all succeed’.

Also in the flexible working news…



The parent trap!

How much time does the average working parent get to spend with their children? Plus does having a baby truly affect your career?

This post explores two separate news items from the HR News website. The first investigates how the ‘always on’ business culture impacts parents’ free time…

1) How much time do parents get to spend with their children?

  • British professionals are currently getting less than 30 minutes a day of quality time to spend with their kids, according to Trades Union Congress.
  • It appears that the nation’s working hours, commuting patterns and low energy levels are all contributing to this trend.
  • Parents and non-parents are also struggling to ‘disconnect from work’ at the end of each day, due to the ‘always on’ nature of the modern workplace.
  • Myers-Briggs deems quality time spent with family and friends to be a core contributor to employee wellbeing, highlighting how important this issue is to employers as well as team members.

2) Most Mums believe that having a baby has ‘hindered their career’

  • Sadly, 89% of Mums say that they’ve faced ‘career regression’ on return from maternity leave. They also believe that they are ‘overlooked for career progression’ opportunities.
  • 51% plan to leave their roles if they are unsupported by their bosses.
  • This problem is increasing levels of depression and anxiety among working mothers. 91% of the group used phrases such as ‘anxious, isolated, worried, overwhelmed, lost, stressed and guilt’, etc.
  • Mothers have shared many of the concerning conversations they’ve had with their employers, ranging from those being told ‘the team shouldn’t be punished for their lifestyle choice’ to the business leaders who ‘think maternity leave is a break’.

Are you worried about being (or becoming) a working parent?

  • It appears that many employed parents are facing somewhat of a trap – feeling they’re neither at the career stage they should be or getting to spend enough time with their children when out of work.
  • Employers should look to use effective and supportive strategies to attract and retain this key workforce during such competitive business times. After all, the nation’s skills shortage remains in full swing.
  • Flexible working is one such attractive employee offering, as discussed in the first of the featured posts. However, even taking the time to understand working parents’ ongoing concerns would be a great starting point.
  • Working parents should not need to fear their career opportunities. Where possible, discuss your concerns and/or needs with a trusted party. This could be a manager, business owner or HR professional. If you really feel unsupported, there may be better employers out there for you.
  • Always discuss your career priorities with your Recruitment Consultant. The best agencies don’t just want to submit your CV to a position that suits your experience, yet one that also provides a culture match.

You can apply for the latest vacancies via the jobs pageCV upload, or by email. Here’s what to include in your cover email if you’re emailing a Recruitment Consultant.



Job Search September! Is everyone looking for a new job?

Will this new season also spell the start of a new job frenzy throughout the nation? Some of the latest findings suggest so…

Wix (the web development platform) has conducted its own research among professionals. They’ve found that:

  • 49% of British professionals intend to leave their job on return from their summer holiday.
  • September is one of the most popular times to change jobs, next to January.
  • A number of workers are deliberately missing return flights and hiding their holiday social media updates so their employers won’t see!
  • There is also data regarding the desire to set up new businesses, the industries people want to specialise in and the type of breaks that inspire a new job search!

Why are professionals feeling so fed up?

  • 69% of respondents experience a sense of ‘dread’ about returning to the office.
  • 42% of people crave more flexibility in their working lives.
  • 39% state that they feel ‘undervalued’.
  • In addition, 37% believe they’re underpaid for their role.
  • 34% say they either don’t like their boss or colleagues.
  • And 31% cite poor management at work.

Will we really experience a Job Search September?

It’s unlikely that the whole study pool will hand in their notice this month! While holidays often spark a period of reflection, many people won’t follow through on their ideas on return from their break.

That said, some of the group will, and the fact remains that this is a popular time to make a change. Other findings reflect some of the above sentiment, yet less dramatically(/imminently)!

For instance, a separate study suggests that just under 1/3 of office employees are ‘considering’ finding a new job within the next year.

Many of the triggers are the same…

  • 39% hope to achieve a better work-life balance, with 32% specifically wanting flexible working options.
  • 38% are looking for a pay rise.
  • This group also believe that their skills will be ‘more desirable in the coming months’ (32%) – and that they’ll still receive ‘multiple job offers with competitive salaries’ (33%).
  • The youngest age group (comprising 16 to 24-year-olds) appears most likely to search for a new role, with career progression and work-life balance the greatest incentives for this demographic. They also prioritise corporate culture over pay rates.
  • Employees aged 35 and over are 10% less likely to job search, yet place an increased value on salaries (42% versus 17% for 16 to 24-year-olds). This is unsurprising if you consider career stage and life factors, including average household and/or caring responsibilities.

Both articles mention the need for employers to prepare themselves for a period of change. Alongside exploring staff retention strategies, this may naturally include an increased recruitment focus.

Please call the office on 01225 313130 to discuss your recruitment requirements or email the team directly. Job-seekers can apply for the latest openings via the jobs page, CV upload, or by email. Here’s what to include in your cover email if you’re looking for a new job!



Leaving a job within the first year

Why have so many people left a role within their first year – and how could this affect their job search?

Let’s start with the latest facts…

  • More than half (55%) of people have left a permanent role within the first 12 months, according to a study by Citation.
  • The male participants in this group were most unhappy at work and, perhaps contrary to common opinion, also reported higher levels of anxiety in their last role (63% of men versus only 38% of women).
  • These findings also contradicted recent research with older workers found to be the least happy.

What was at the root of this unhappiness?

The article only cites two reasons for leaving a role within the year:

  1. Poor management (69%).
  2. ‘Hostile’ work environments (62%).

It’s interesting to see that both reasons relate to the ‘people’ elements of work. This does reflect recent research surrounding the importance of strong working relationships.

A number of core employee values are shared, including:

  • Supporting individuals’ mental and physical wellbeing.
  • The strength of good annual leave, bonuses, and sick pay programmes.
  • Flexible working opportunities (which is a popular theme in recent surveys).

Citation additionally recommends a number of tools that employers can use to retain new team members.

How does leaving a role within the first year affect your job search?

There’s no clear-cut answer to this one, it really depends on your CV as a whole…

If prospective employers see a slew of ‘permanent’ openings that have all been left within a matter of months, you may want to rethink your recruitment approach.

  • It could just be bad luck. However, it’s likely that you’re not applying for the right roles and/or you’re accepting jobs that you don’t truly want. After a time, businesses may consider you to be a serial ‘job hopper’ that won’t commit long enough to warrant their time and/or financial investment.
  • It may be worth having an honest conversation with a recruitment consultant who specialises in your industry. What’s more, temping could be a better option for you while you figure things out (see below!). Please note: you’re never advised to leave a permanent role to temp, as you can’t guarantee that you’ll always find work.

It’s a different story if you’ve been undertaking a variety of temporary assignments and your previous employers can vouch for this.

  • Naturally, you should clearly communicate this fact on your CV too. Business leaders will be interested to learn more about your choices during your interviews.

Some industries are also less phased by their high staff turnover levels (and the CVs that reflect this) than others.

  • One popular example is that of the technology industry. As this LinkedIn piece states, employee “turnover can be a sign of a very healthy, very unhealthy or changing industry”.
  • You may want to do your research to understand more about what’s normal or expected in your sector.

Of course, it’s also a very different story for those who have a strong record of commitment.

  • In other words, when job-seekers have only rarely resigned from a role within a shorter time period.
  • It’s much less likely that this will negatively affect your career as a whole. It’s worth discussing what went wrong with your recruitment consultant, and what you’ve learned from your experience to date. Is there a particular type of environment that you don’t want to work within? Is there something you’ve experienced that suited you far better?
  • As ever, during actual job interviews, it’s recommended that you focus on the positives of your prior experiences…and employers!

Keep an eye on our News page for further career tips and insights. You can also see the latest job vacancies here



Perks & pay: for employees earning less than £30K.

What’s more important, perks or pay for employees earning less than £30,000 a year? 

If you keep your eye on the jobs news, you’ll spot a common theme. Researchers always want to know more about your working values and how these compare to each other. The perennial question tends to include ‘what matters more to you, your salary or your…!’ (As a case in point, we recently reported on the topic of company culture versus salary level.)

Today’s source specifically explores the parity of the work benefits package and salary for the ‘under £30,000 workforce’.

Perks or pay?

In this instance, the title suggests that they’re ‘just as important’ as each other – and many of the employees surveyed place more weight on other work-life benefits.

  • 45% of respondents are happier when offered learning and development opportunities
  • 36% value flexible working hours, including ‘leniency in start times and/or breaks’
  • 26% already enjoy non-typical work schedules
  • ‘Frequency of pay’ is briefly mentioned as an additional motivator
  • Candidates are also eager to source jobs local to home (27%)

The income issue:

This sample explores the ‘Hidden Heroes’ workforce: those who earn an average salary of £16,403. This comprises employees in multiple sectors and across a variety of working ages.

So, from the above findings, you may think this group just isn’t as reliant on their income. However, many of the respondents express financial concerns.

  • Over 1/3 are ‘unsure or worried’ about covering their general bills
  • While 72% do not think they’d be able to fund ‘a large unexpected’ payment
  • Alongside this, 54% of this employee group report feeling ‘underpaid’
  • Millennials most often relate to feeling ‘overqualified’ (45%) for their roles
  • And the hospitality and catering industries contain the greatest number of workers who feel overqualified (54%)

What this tells us…

Employers looking to attract candidates for openings of this salary level would be smart to explore their wider benefits packages. What else could be offered to motivate and incentivise employees? Small changes could prove invaluable to professionals.

Naturally, extending benefit schemes across the entire workforce helps companies to maintain a competitive advantage.

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



Choosing company culture over salary

Which is more important, your company culture or your salary? Why the former may mean more to job satisfaction…

Employers may think a competitive salary is all that’s needed to attract and retain talented team members. Yet, while salaries are clearly important, this way of thinking can be risky in times of skills shortage.

After all, the latest findings indicate that:

  • 57% of people believe their company culture has more of an effect on their job satisfaction than their salary level.
  • 75% would ‘consider’ an employer’s culture before even making a job application.
  • 63% think it’s one of the primary reasons they remain in their role.
  • And 70% of employees would start looking for a new job if their working culture ‘deteriorated’.
  • In addition, respondents favour businesses that represent a ‘clear mission and purpose’ (89%).

It’s not the first time we’ve read such stats. Back in the Spring, it was reported that employees would sacrifice their work-life balance in order to enjoy a positive environment.

Respondents even say they’d choose to work a 60-hour week rather than be a part of a business that ‘doesn’t value culture’.

What contributes to a positive company culture?

Business leaders will want to read this HR News post in full. In summary, there are many elements that contribute to a strong working culture. These include…

  • Respecting – and being fair to – the team
  • Displaying ‘trust and integrity’
  • A culture of teamwork
  • Being flexible/open to improvements
  • Using ‘pre-boarding’ strategies, such as workplace buddies and mentoring for soon-to-be employees
  • Providing continued support/guidance
  • Offering recognition and incentives
  • Flexible working opportunities
  • And strong working relationships (including those with management)

Recognition is also prioritised ahead of pay rises…

Once again, the above list calls to mind another research report.

  • More than 3/5 of employees would rather work for a company that expresses praise and thanks than to be paid 10% more without it.
  • Yet there’s a clear gap between hope and reality, as only 16% of managers think they’ve been given the tools and know-how to ‘recognise colleagues effectively’.

How do you learn more about an employer’s company culture?

Naturally, it can be hard to truly understand a business’s working culture until you’re actively a part of it. Yet there are some great clues to help you decide whether it’s the sort of place that you’d like to work…

  1. Have a really good look at the company’s website. This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people just have a quick glance at the ‘about’ page. Take the time to really read what the business is highlighting about itself and its team.
  2. As well as reading the business’s latest news via their website and social feeds, see what others are saying about them. How do their employees talk about their work on Twitter, etc? Has anyone reviewed their experience of working for the company? The latter tends to be more common for larger regional/national employers. Of course, reviews can be subjective yet they can be helpful if you read them with a critical mind.
  3. Job advertisements can also provide some useful insights. Especially if there are mentions of team outings, company events, employee benefits, charity initiatives, etc.
  4. Search for the business in the actual news – whether local, national or industry publications.
  5. Use interviews as a chance to find out more about the working culture and environment.
  6. And, of course, don’t forget to ask your recruitment consultant for their insights. This is just one of the many benefits of working with an agency who specialises in your field.

Ready to discover a new company culture? Here are the latest jobs



Job acceptance regret

Have you ever experienced job acceptance regret? This sentiment is growing among professionals…

Our first news finding relates to Gen Z job-seekers (those with birth dates ranging ‘from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s’). However, you’ll see that the problem is far from exclusive to this age group.

New findings reveal that…

  • 40% of Gen Z candidates have experienced job acceptance regret – and would not ‘repeat their decision’ if offered another opportunity.
  • Alongside this, 51% cannot foresee an extensive career with their employer.
  • 1/3 of candidates actually plan to resign from their role within a year.

So what’s causing this regret?

The article doesn’t cite why the respondents have experienced regret. Yet it does call on employers to improve their understanding of this age group. Within this, a number of core employee priorities are discussed:

  • Development opportunities: allowing employees to continually update their skills and feel ‘relevant’ to the changing business landscape.
  • Flexible working opportunities and a healthy work-life balance.
  • Meaningful connections with their managers and teams.

What about other groups & your expectations?

As mentioned, it’s not only Gen Z job-seekers that have felt some level of job acceptance regret. Another study suggests that the failure of a job to meet expectations could be contributing to this issue. 48% of employees of all ages have left a position as a result of this. The disparity between expectations and reality was largely attributed to:

  • Differing job responsibilities (59%)
  • The ‘working environment’ (42%)
  • Working hours/shift patterns (35%)
  • And salary or benefits packages (29%)

Advice for candidates & employers:

It’s great that we have access to this sort of data as it helps us make better decisions, whether we’re looking for jobs or to create our teams.

Candidates: 

  • There’s always going to be the chance that a job differs from your expectations. Yet it’s helpful if you identify some of your hopes and priorities early in your job search.
  • Let your Recruitment Consultant know what matters most to you. Not only the jobs you’re looking for, yet the environments you work well, in and the salary package that you hope to achieve. Be honest with yourself. For example, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’d be happy to work alone in an office if you truly thrive off of a team setting.
  • Use your interviews as the opportunity to find out more about a typical day in the role and to get a sense of the business culture.
  • Try not to feel pressured into accepting a position if it’s ringing alarm bells. Consider all options: remaining in your existing role until something more suitable arises (if applicable/possible), considering temporary or contract work, and continuing your job search.

Employers:

  • There are two primary aspects to consider here: improved staff attraction and employee retention. They happen to be intrinsically linked.
  • You can have the ‘best’ staff attraction approach yet if the reality doesn’t meet expectation, you’ll experience high turnover rates. It’s about tapping into more of what employees value to both attract and keep your team.
  • Furthermore, the more honestly you can depict the role, the more likely you are to attract the right person to fill it. It’s better to have fewer highly suitable applicants than to feel forced into extending a job offer to someone who won’t be the best fit.
  • You can also use interviews to go beyond a candidate’s skills and into their values and attributes.
  • Work closely with your Recruitment Consultant to attract the right people for your roles. Call the office for further support on 01225 313130.


New mother retention rates & more parental news

Should companies publish their new mother retention rates? Some MPs think so, in order to reduce discrimination levels. There’s also talk of fathers facing discrimination within the latest news for working parents…

The publishing of new mother retention rates

Source: Personnel Today

  • The Women and Equalities Committee is in favour of increased support for new parents – including extended legal protections regarding ‘redundancy for pregnant employees and new mothers’.
  • In addition, they’re calling on the government to take greater action to support parents. They suggest that larger employers should publish their new mother retention rates 12 months after they return to work, as well as 12 months following a flexible working application.
  • It’s not the first time the group has made such recommendations. They follow ‘shocking stories of workplace discrimination’ with concerns surrounding the ’emotional, physical and financial impact on women’.

Many UK working fathers face discrimination 

Source: HR Review

  • 44% of dads say they’ve experienced discrimination after taking up their right to paternity leave or shared parental leave.
  • 1/4 of fathers have received ‘verbal abuse or mockery’ as a result of their choice.
  • More than a third (35%) additionally perceive a negative career impact – such as job loss (17%) or demotions (20%).
  • This may be contributing to a culture of white lies, in which fathers feel unable to be upfront about their ‘family-related responsibilities.’

Could one prominent paternity leave programme make a difference to many more dads?

Source: People Management

  • O2 is increasing its paid paternity leave programme to 14 weeks for permanent team members – while also ensuring that same-sex couples and adoptive and surrogate parents are all included.
  • This policy will be extended to retail workers as well as head office employees, which puts O2 ahead of many of its retail counterparts.
  • While it’s acknowledged that these policies are largely offered by big corporate business, the competitive advantage will likely cause other companies to follow suit. Consequently, we may see reductions in stigma and discrimination.

Leaders need to support flexible working for parents

Source: Personnel Today

Offering flexible working alone is not enough to support working parents, according to ‘The 2019 Modern Families Index: Employer Report’.

Instead, business leaders should look to more actively celebrate the benefits of flexible working. While also helping to reduce the pressure parents feel when considering their working options.

The report suggests employers can make flexibility ‘visible’ from the top tiers of their companies – and educate their employees on how colleagues achieved senior positions through flexible working.

Perhaps this will help to improve the current stats, which show that:

  • 2 in 3 people are finding it ‘increasingly difficult to raise a family.’
  • Only 1/4 of working parents feel they’ve struck the ‘right balance between work, family life and income’.

Looking for a job that better suits your needs? Visit our jobs page



Is a 4-day week the future norm?

Could a 4-day week become the new ‘norm’ for employees and help solve the nation’s working challenges? This is the core theme of multiple HR and recruitment news features published within the past fortnight.

Living in the overtime capital

The UK has sadly earned itself the moniker of ‘unpaid overtime capital of Europe.’ The average full-time employee now works around 6.3 hours of unpaid overtime weekly. This amounts to £5,000 per person each year, according to ADP research data.

You could assume this means we’re flying ahead in the productivity stakes, however, the opposite is true. What’s more, our culture of overwork could actually be at the root of this problem.

  • It’s said that the Danes are ‘23.5% more productive per hour,’ despite the fact they work 4 hours less each week.
  • The Republic of Ireland is also 62.7% more productive, yet works less than 40 hours per week. The UK averages 42 hours.
  • Apparently, if changes aren’t made, ‘it would take 63 yearsfor UK employees to receive the same amount of leisure time as the rest of Europe.

Employees call for a 4-day week

Alongside the productivity issues, UK professionals are also feeling increasingly stressed. More than 1 in 3 people feel more stressed than they did just two years ago. The respondents suggest this is due to:

  • Increased workloads (66%)
  • ‘Changing relationships’ at work (30%)
  • Not having control over their work (27%)

On being asked what would help lower their stress levels, the participants said:

  1. A 4-day working week (Almost 1/3: 30%)
  2. Greater management support (25%)
  3. Reduced responsibilities, or other work changes (13%)
  4. Stress management training (6%)
  5. Regular exercise (5%)
  6. Not receiving work emails outside of their contracted hours (5%)

Various views on the 4-day week

It’s suggested that technological advances should make a 4-day working week feasible. Yet some employers and employees have their concerns…

  • Businesses worry about paying the same salaries for reduced workloads and professionals fear that they’ll end up working fewer days yet even longer hours. Others worry that they’ll have to squeeze their existing workloads into a briefer timeframe.
  • Several examples are provided in the above-linked piece. One of which is a Surrey-based trial in which employees will work an extra hour a day in order to shorten their working week to four days/32 hours for full-timers. The workers’ stress levels will be compared at the end of it. It will be interesting to see whether the longer days/shorter weeks outweigh the associated concerns.
  • One German-company has taken a different approach: reducing each working day from eight hours to five. They say this has resulted in reduced stress and improved work-life balance. They have, however, had to implement some practical changes to help employees manage their workloads. This included reevaluating ‘social media usage and finding weekly routines’.

In conclusion…

While it doesn’t appear that 4-day working weeks will become the imminent norm, don’t be surprised if you see more UK employers experimenting with this notion. In the meantime, are there any jobs that more closely match your working priorities? For example, those with reduced commutes or more favourable hours or shifts, flexible working opportunities and other lifestyle benefits.

We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for future updates regarding this topic/how the Surrey study turns out! As well as sharing such updates via our news feed, you can also follow us over on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.



Working parents news roundup

There are have been a number of new articles regarding the challenges faced by working parents…

The part-time penalty

Source: Working Families & Bright Horizons

Our first news source cites stats from the ‘Modern Families Index 2019’. Both the summary and full edition reports are available for free download.

Working Families and Bright Horizons Family Solutions founded this annual report in 2012. The index explores how UK parents ‘manage the balance between work and family life.’ So what did this year’s index show?

  • Part-time working parents have a 21% chance of a workplace promotion over the next three years. This is compared to the 45% chance for full-time employees.
  • Mothers tend to have to wait two years more than fathers for promotions, which is largely due to the fact that more mothers work part-time hours.
  • Working parents are facing vast workloads. 78% work more than their contractual hours. 60% say this is due to their high workload, while 52% attribute it to the company’s working culture.
  • Flexible working opportunities are far from meeting demand. 86% of parents wish to work flexibly, yet only 49% currently do so.
  • Out of work, parents are finding their relationships and home life are being negatively affected. They’re struggling to find sufficient leisure time for their children (47%), their relationship with their partner is being impaired (48%), and these pressures are even sparking arguments with their children (28%).
  • Additionally, 47% of parents feel that work-life boundaries are being ‘blurred by technology.’

Further stats detail concerns regarding the physical wellbeing impact in terms of sleep, exercise and diet.

Both the government and employers are being called upon to help ease some of the pressures described.

Childcare as a barrier

Source: Personnel Today & Travelodge

Of course, there are also many parents who long to be working parents yet are struggling to find suitable employment. Research finds…

  • 86% of unemployed parents ‘want to return to work’.
  • 67% would like the chance to move up their career ladder.
  • However, 61% have lost confidence as a result of their career break.
  • And 59% say it is a challenge to find work that suits their school run schedule.

Personnel Today also share a number of insights regarding the personal motivations to return to work.

Facilities lacking

Source: Personnel Today & Slater and Gordon

Breastfeeding mothers are also facing additional workplace challenges.

  • 56% of women have been forced to express milk in unsuitable places, from the staff room (18%) to their car (14%), and even their desk (11%).
  • 70% of businesses have not discussed this matter with their employees prior to their return from maternity leave.
  • And 29% of employees feel too embarrassed to raise the topic.

A number of consequences are discussed in the piece, which also highlights the stress and anxiety experienced by breastfeeding mothers.

Safety concerns are also raised owing to the fact that the milk is not always expressed in a hygienic setting.

Any parents affected by issues relating to childcare or employment rights, or those who simply wish to understand more about the benefits and tax credits available to them, can visit the Working Families website. The organisation also offers a helpline service. 

To see our latest vacancies, please visit our jobs page.