It wasn`t like this in my day!

The UK Government`s The Good Work Plan ( states “Since 2010 we have higher employment and lower unemployment in every region and every nation of the United Kingdom and wages are now growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade.” The article sites employment law and flexibility being the key metrics that underpin this success!

Employment, retention and development has changed over the past few decades.  If you compare the workplace now to the 1990`s it is not a surprise that you see evolution.  If, however we look at a smaller timeframe, say 10 years, the landscape is totally different once again. Take for example this week; The main road route from Edinburgh to Fife was shut, the roads in the Scottish borders (particularly Dumfries and Galloway) were unpassable and some routes in the north were atrocious.  The result is the ability to work from home – This was not as commonplace as it was 10 years ago!  My point here is that employee and employer behaviour has changed. 

Taking this one step further, whilst computer technology has evolved, so has the smart phone revolution.  I often find myself (much to my wife`s dismay), working throughout the evening whether it be on a laptop finishing administrative tasks or scrolling through LinkedIn on my smart phone.  One of my fascinations is; when I started my professional career, it was commonplace for people to smoke cigarettes in the office, now it isn’t uncommon for people to work until 10pm.  Has physical wellbeing overtaken mental welfare? Is one more important than the other?

A candidates that is looking for a new job (a Skill entering the employment market), seeks enhanced softer benefits such as; flexi time, working from home, compressed hours or part time/zero hours contracts.  To add to these, other softer benefits like gym membership or health care/dental care are becoming much more important in the decision-making process when accepting or declining a new job.

As a recruiter specialising in HR and finance vacancies, there are always roles that clients know will be problematic.  Over the past few years I have heard of more and more jobs that fall into this category.  Businesses are reporting that the number of these “difficult to fill vacancies” are increasing and there seems no slowdown in this trend.  For example, a company that I have worked with over the past few years were even struggling to attract entry level finance staff into their busy shared service centre.

It is not hard to find evidence that the recruitment market is currently led by candidates.  We can look at the high employment rates and the sustained investment in training and development as key measures.  Companies have also increased their reliance of good, sound advice from the Human Resource functions which has increased retention levels which in turn has an impact on skill availability. 

In summary, I was asked by a client recently; what challenges to you foresee over the next while from a recruitment prospective?  My immediate response was about the shortage of skill sets and how important it was to act quickly when you see “top talent”.  On reflection though, and whilst writing this, it became clear to me that the challenge is not just about acting quickly when you see “top talent”, it’s about being nimble in the way employees are engaged.  I guess the bigger question is; Has the Monday – Friday, 9.00am – 5.30pm rule book being re-written and if so, what is the new rule book saying?


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