What ‘human-centric’ tech is fixing HR challenges

Has anyone had it more difficult at work than human resources professionals in the last three years?

First, they had to manage and enable a workforce that suddenly couldn’t come into the office due to lockdowns – aside from in industries with increasingly stressed frontline staff, such as healthcare workers, emergency services workers, and teachers. 

Next, the great resignation trend, spurred by the pandemic and elongated by, in particular, Gen Zers’ innovative approach to career development and well-being, made life even more challenging. 

On top of most companies rethinking their work policies – adding to the HR workload – the criticality of attracting and retaining workers during this period of economic uncertainty, a tightening labor market, and technological advancement, was matched by the need to train and upskill staff so the organization could operate in the coming years.

No wonder a new global survey published by Humaans – a London-headquartered employee management software company – found that 54% of the 1,000 HR managers quizzed considered their roles to have grown more complex, as they navigated an increasingly rocky landscape with ever-shrinking teams and fewer resources.

Thankfully, various HR technology tools have made their working lives more manageable. And there is little surprise that almost half (46%) of HR leaders are planning to invest more in HR tech, according to Gartner research shared in early March. 

But what exactly is the most effective HR tech?

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in March 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘Full-time no experience’: How cost-of-living crisis is shaping labor trends

Newly released data from global job-search platform Indeed has confirmed what most people already suspected: that the cost-of-living crisis is shaping labor trends, and specifically what prospective employees want from their job. 

While some findings were predictable – for example, there were more searches for “full-time no experience” positions, zero-hour contracts, and greater demand for weekly pay in the three months leading up to Jan. 2023 compared to the same period a year ago – the alarmingly steep rise in these areas might shock business leaders and human resources professionals.

For instance, in the U.K., searches on Indeed for zero-hour contracts were up 70%, requests for part-time work had increased by 65%, and “weekend-only” searches jumped 120%. Demand for weekly pay surged by 122%, “full-time no experience” searches rose 219%, and “support worker no experience” was 337% higher.

Ultimately, the results indicated that recruitment models, learning and development and employee experience should urgently be modernized to keep pace with and accommodate workers’ needs and wants.

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in March 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Businesses are not putting people in the right jobs – how tech can help

Most business leaders who offer variants of the cliché that “people are the company’s greatest asset” seldom match words with deeds. More worrying, though, is that people are not being matched to jobs in which they can excel – now more than ever. 

Alarmingly, a vast majority of organizations were taking the wrong, outdated approach to managing and developing human capital, argued professor Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Digital Economy Lab at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, and arguably the world’s leading expert on the role of digital technology in improving productivity.

“Human capital is a $220 trillion asset in the U.S. – bigger than all the other assets put together, and about ten times the country’s gross domestic product,” said Prof. Brynjolfsson. “The most important asset on the planet is the one we’ve been measuring the worse.” 

As a result, human capital has been “probably the most misallocated asset on the planet. Businesses are not putting the right people in the right jobs; they’re not hiring, firing, and reassigning where they need to be doing it.”

This gloomy analysis is a lose-lose for employer, employee, and society, added Brynjolfsson. “Think of how many people are not in the right job, living lives of quiet desperation,” he said. 

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in March 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘These challenges will only deepen’: Confessions of a PR exec on mounting hybrid-working pressures

Numerous studies indicate that middle managers are feeling the squeeze in the post-pandemic rush to move to hybrid- and remote-working models. Further, they are not being adequately supported, financially or otherwise.

At the start of 2023, Gartner identified “managers will be sandwiched by leader and employee expectations” as one of the top nine workplace predictions for chief human resource officers this year. A workplace culture and recognition firm O.C. Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report, published last September, found that 41% of U.K. managers felt pressured to choose between what their leaders want and the demands of their direct reports.

For WorkLife’s latest installment of Confessions, where anonymity is traded for candor, a senior PR executive based in London shared how rising pressure to manage expectations from above and below is unsustainable, and she feels unsupported and under-compensated. She’s currently looking for another job.

To what extent is managing a hybrid team making you more squeezed and why?

Managing a remote team in a distributed environment requires more time to support junior staff members. While some junior team members thrive, others – unaccustomed to keeping up the pace from home – fall behind.

To some extent, it’s understandable. After all, we are individuals who work well in different environments. However, it’s the responsibility of senior leadership to step in and resolve these challenges early within an employee’s onboarding cycle. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen, allowing these challenges to deepen and develop over time.

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in February 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘Protirement’ is trending again – but ageism remains rife

In late January, Jeremy Hunt, chancellor of the U.K. government, invoked the spirit of Uncle Sam, who had implored Americans to enroll for World War I action over a century earlier. “I want YOU for the U.S. Army,” read the caption on the four million recruitment posters – featuring the scowling, pointing, bearded fictitious character – plastered across the country. 

With, at the last count, 1.1 million job vacancies to fill in the U.K., Hunt adopted a similarly commanding tone, this time to persuade troops to rejoin the workforce and ease the war for talent. “To those who retired early after the pandemic or haven’t found the right role after furlough, I say ‘Britain needs you,’” he said. “We will look at the conditions necessary to make work worth your while.”

This plea was part of a campaign to encourage the 630,000 people who left the U.K. workforce between 2019 and 2022 – so-called “protirees” – to return to employment and help the country fight off the recession.

However, more recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) that surveyed more than 1,000 managers working in U.K. businesses and public services indicated firms are overlooking older people and instead opting for younger workers. Indeed, just 42% of respondents were open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged between 50 and 64 years old.

How, then, can protirees who want to return to employment be better welcomed by organizations so that their considerable talents are not squandered? 

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in February 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Why ‘re-recruiting’ existing employees is critical for 2023

As the long tail of the Great Resignation continues to swish and sting, labor markets contract and economic uncertainty bites, organizations should make every effort in 2023 to hold on to their employees. More specifically, they should “re-recruit” workers already at the company, urged Microsoft’s Liz Leigh-Bowler.

To support the case for re-recruiting, the product marketing leader, based in Epson, U.K., cited the results of Microsoft’s recent global hybrid work survey, which captured answers from over 20,000 employees in 11 countries. Of the many telling statistics surfaced by the report, she said a handful stood out on this subject.

For example, two-thirds of employees would stay longer at their company if it were easier to switch jobs internally. Similarly, 76% of respondents would remain with their employer if they could benefit more from learning-and-development support. 

Unsurprisingly, without growth opportunities, most workers across all levels would depart. Without chances to develop, 68% of business decision-makers would not hang around. Worryingly, 55% of all employees reckoned the best way for them to learn or enhance skills would be to change employers. 

The level of workforce thirst for development has never been higher, according to the research. In fact, the opportunity to learn and grow is the number-one driver of a great work culture – a jump from ninth position in the rankings in 2019.

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in January 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How recruitment firms are embracing flexible working policies

Are recruitment firms practising what they preach when it comes to flexible working?

After all, these organizations have had a front-row seat to spot the evolving workforce trends, which in the last three years have seen demand for flexibility and, for some candidates, part- or fully-remote roles.

To find out how the most pioneering recruitment firms have changed their working methods, WorkLife spoke to various organizations within the industry.

Here we consider the challenges and opportunities of embracing a four-day week – aka “Flex Friday” – digital detox holidays, and supporting employees to achieve the optimal work-life balance.

This article is the third of a three-part series in which DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, rounds up a range of flexible models used by employers in different sectors.

The full version of this piece was first published on WorkLife, in December 2022. To read the complete piece, please click HERE. And to read the other two articles in the series please use the links below.
What media and marketing execs have learned from flexible-working experiments
Remote-first, WFA, nine-day weeks: Flexible working experiments of 2022

HR teams admit fault for why most new hires aren’t working out

Most human resource departments across the planet are feeling deep buyer’s remorse, according to new research.

Thomas International, a talent assessment platform provider, surveyed 900 HR professionals globally and found nearly two-thirds (60%) of new hires are not working out. And the majority of respondents blamed themselves for effectively taking shortcuts that turned out to be dead ends.

Nearly half (49%) of hiring managers said recruits were unsuccessful because of a “poor fit between the candidate and the role,” and 74% admitted to compromising candidate quality due to time pressures in response to the Great Resignation and a tight labor market.

It seems that this post-job-move remorse hasn’t just been a burden on HR teams, but the new hires themselves. “We see a higher level of regretted choices because things have not worked out the way the candidate had hoped,” said Piers Hudson, senior director of Gartner’s HR functional strategy and management research team, referencing trends his organization’s proprietary data has highlighted.

However, he added that overall, there has been an “elevation in expectations,” particularly among younger generations, that employers are finding it difficult to live up to.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Cost-of-living worries prompt workers to seek higher-paid jobs

Sorry kids, Santa’s sack might not be so full this year. According to new research, an alarming 88% of U.K. workers are unsure whether their current role can sustain them financially during this economically uncertain period.

Further, productivity platform ClickUp’s study, published in late November, calculated that 26% of Britain-based employees are planning to switch jobs because of the cost-of-living crisis — inflation hit 11.1% in October, a 41-year high — and the desperate need to earn more money.

“With the highest inflation rate among the G7 countries [consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K and the U.S.], there’s no doubt almost every working family in the U.K. is feeling the pinch,” said Alan Bradstock, a senior insolvency practitioner at Accura Accountants in London. “Many have no choice but to seek higher paid work.”

Citizens Advice, a U.K. charity, said the number of employed people seeking crisis support between July and September jumped 150% compared to the same three-month span two years ago. “Every day, our advisers hear stories of people skipping meals, going without essentials, and then coming to us when they simply can’t cut back anymore,” said Morgan Wild, the charity’s head of policy. “This cannot continue.”

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

‘It’s a future that’s upon us’: Will robots ever have the top jobs?

How would you feel about having a robot boss? And not just a line manager but the head honcho of the company.

You might think this is an idle, hypothetical question. Indeed, back in 2017, then-Alibaba CEO Jack Ma stated we are mere decades from having robots at the helm of organizations. He predicted that by 2047, a robot CEO would make the cover of Time magazine.

And yet, those provocative guesstimates from five years ago now look generous. In late August, the world’s first artificial intelligence-powered, humanoid robot CEO, called Mika, was appointed to the top job at Dictador, a luxury rum company.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How fair are employers really being about pay raises during the cost-of-living crisis?

You’d think the resignation of U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss would have sent shockwaves of relief across the country. Perhaps it did in some ways, but the scorched earth she left behind, as a result of her cabinet’s hasty economic decisions, has U.K. public morale at an all-time low.

With inflation at a 40-year high and employees mired in a cost-of-living crisis that looks set to deepen, financial anxiety is sky-high. The worries pile up — including that some may not be able to afford their mortgage this time next year, due to the latest changes made by the Bank of England in response to the disastrous “mini budget. It’s clear we’re in for a shaky recovery.

A new Indeed and YouGov survey of 2,500 U.K. workers reaffirmed this. It showed 52% don’t think they are currently being paid enough to weather the current cost-of-living crisis. And that has a direct correlation to employees feeling undervalued, found the same report. Notably, healthcare and medical staff were most likely to feel underpaid (64%). Next on the list of unhappy workers were those who work in hospitality and leisure (61%) and legal (58%) industries.

To boost bank balances, 13% of those surveyed asked their employers for a pay raise. However, despite the real-earning squeeze, 61% of those who requested an increase either received less than they wanted or nothing at all. Little wonder that overall, 9% had applied for a new role, while others have resorted to taking on additional jobs.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Time to break the stereotypes about Gen Z attitudes to work

Organizations are over-relying on stereotypes to try and understand what makes them tick in the scramble to attract and retain the best young talent.

Sure, Generation Zers have unique perspectives on careers and how to succeed in the workforce that differs from previous generations, but in the race to better understand an entire generation, important details are falling through the cracks.

For instance, Gen Z bore the brunt of the criticism for harboring so-called lazy work ethics like “quiet quitting.” But that falls short of the full truth, talent execs have asserted.

Meanwhile, new research has emerged that disproves another myth: that Gen Zers don’t want to work in an office, ever. It turns out a large proportion does want to experience in-person workplace environments. Indeed, 72% of 4,000 U.K. Gen Zers said they want to be in the office between three and five days a week, according to research published in September by Bright Network, a graduate careers and employment firm.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Is long-term employee retention a losing battle?

Is the concept of a job for life dead?

The mass reassessment of careers people have undergone over the past few years – described by many as the Great Resignation, by others as the Great Reshufffle – is showing no signs of calming down. In fact, in the U.K., the trend seems to be accelerating.

More than 6.5 million people (20% of the U.K. workforce) are expected to quit their job in the next 12 months, according to estimates from the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which published the data in June after surveying more than 6,000 workers. That’s up from 2021, when 16% of the U.K. workforce said they plan to quit within a year, according to the CIPD. Meanwhile, in March Microsoft’s global Work Trend Index found that 52% of Gen Zers and Millennials — the two generations that represent the vast majority of the workforce — were likely to consider changing jobs within the following year.

Tania Garrett, chief people officer at Unit4, a global cloud software provider for services companies, argued that it is time for organizations to get real — they are no longer recruiting people for the long term. Instead, they should embrace this reality, and stop creating rewards that encourage more extended service from employees. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Amid economic turmoil, HR budgets are under threat

As the specter of a global financial crash looms, businesses are pruning budgets, and human resources departments are first in line for the chop, according to new research by HR software company Personio.

More than half (55%) of HR managers have either had their budgets slashed already, or expect them to be cut in the coming months, according to the report, which surveyed 500 HR professionals and 1,000 workers in the U.K. and Ireland. Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they’re used to their department’s budget being the first to get trimmed when businesses tighten their belts.

But this approach is wrongheaded and will have lasting ramifications, argued Ross Seychell, Personio’s chief people officer. “HR should be even more of a priority now, not less,” he said.

That’s because areas typically within the HR remit — like company culture and employee experience — are more important than ever, as organizations continue to battle to get people into the office and ensure the experience is worthwhile when they do. All at a time when talent retention is just as vital.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to ask for a raise amid a cost-of-living crisis

Asking the boss for a raise can be awkward at the best of times.

As the cost-of-living crisis deepens in the U.K. and U.S. and company purse strings are pulled tight, it’s arguably even more difficult. However, given the perilous state of the economy, it’s critical to pluck up the courage to discuss a pay bump.

The temptation might be to blunder into an informal chat, but that could come across as desperate. Instead, a better strategy is to prepare well to effectively make your business case.

Below are some tried and tested expert tips to help those seeking a raise seal the deal.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How companies are attempting to tackle diversity ‘blind spots’ at the hiring stage

In an attempt to root out all biases – conscious or unconscious – at the hiring stage, more organizations are overhauling their recruitment processes.

For many, that’s meant stripping their recruitment methods to the bare bones and examining everything from how language in job ads can influence who applies, to improving interview questions so they focus on a person’s aptitude and skill, rather than background and experience.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Boomerang employees trend continues to grow, but is a returning worker a good idea long-term?

According to LinkedIn, boomerang employees accounted for 5% – 1.4 million people – of all new hires in 2021 in the U.K., a record high. The professional social media platform also contributed to this trend, with nearly 150 returning employees between September 2021 and February 2022.

It is a good idea for businesses to take a supportive and pragmatic approach, believes James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO and chairman of Frank Recruitment Group. Mainly because the workforce “is far more fluid now” compared to a decade ago, and the average length of service has reduced.

“There’s also far less of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ relationship between employer and employee today,” he said. “The dream scenario as an organization is for everyone leaving you to be welcome back at any stage in their career, and boomerang hires are just evidence of that attitude translating into practice.”

Glassdoor research published in 2020 calculated that the average U.K. employer spends around £3,000 ($3,688) per new hire, and the process takes approximately 28 days.

The price to pay for a wrong candidate is significantly higher, though. The U.S Department of Labor warns that a misfit will cost the business up to 30% of the employee’s wages for the first year. Others argue that the figure is significantly higher when training and supervision are factored in.

A Harris Poll research, published by USA Today in March, indicates the Great Resignation triggered during the pandemic has proved to be not so great for a high majority of movers. Indeed, just 26% of job switchers quizzed say they like their new position enough to stay.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Why more companies are sending new hires straight to the metaverse for improved onboarding

What will you learn on your first day at work in the metaverse? 

This year, some 150,000 joiners will begin their careers at Accenture in the company’s virtual campus, called the Nth Floor, according to Allison Horn, the company’s executive director of global talent, based in Washington DC.

The Nth Floor is where new hires and existing Accenture staff “can have a more immersive experience for learning and networking,” said Jon Ayres, U.K. managing director for talent and organization at the company. It is one of a growing list of examples showcasing how employers are using pioneering technology to attract and retain top talent. 

Given the tussle for top talent and the need for greater connection with colleagues in the age of hybrid working, Ayres predicts that companies will “experiment with new technology so employees can collaborate in a more meaningful way, which will advance the virtual working tools used widely today.” His statement is supported by new McKinsey research, published mid-June, which calculates metaverse spending will hit $5 trillion by 2030.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Flexibility is key to recruitment – and keeping your staff

Fallout from Brexit and the pandemic has led to more vacancies than applicants, but paying extra is not a long-term option

When the Office for National Statistics published its latest job vacancies data this week, it exposed the post-pandemic recruitment challenges facing most businesses. The number of unfilled positions in the UK increased by 20,000 between March and May to a record 1.3 million, while in the three months from February to April the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 per cent, the lowest since 1974.

“For the first time since records began there are fewer unemployed people than job vacancies,” said Jack Kennedy, a UK economist at the job-listing platform Indeed. “That marks a dramatic turnaround from last summer when there were four unemployed people per vacancy. It also highlights the extreme tightness of the labour market, which has been fuelling hiring difficulties across many sectors.”

Cleaning, construction, warehouse, manufacturing and hospitality roles are all receiving lower interest levels on average than before the pandemic, he added. Brexit is exacerbating the challenges for sectors that relied on workers from the European Union.

The lack of flexible working in these roles, in comparison with desk-based jobs, is another factor, as is the number of people opting for early retirement.

The pandemic “put the brakes on decades of improvement” in employment rates among those in their fifties and sixties, said Ian Nicholas, the global managing director at the employment agency Reed. “The number of people in this age group who are not even looking for work has risen by 228,000,” he said, adding that companies should encourage older staff to stay in work to share knowledge and engage with younger members of the workforce.

This article was first published in The Times in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE (note: it is behind a paywall).

How switching to a 4-day week solved challenger bank Atom’s talent shortage

Six months ago, challenger bank Atom was in a tight spot: its growth tear was being stunted by a major talent shortage.

The company had 70 unfilled job vacancies and, in a tight labor market, was struggling to find the best talent to fill them.

To boost its visibility as a great place to work and attract top talent, Atom’s U.K.-based leadership decided to take the plunge and trial a four-day week, to see if it boosted the volume of candidates applying.

It worked. The company had a 500% increase in applications for open roles, according to Atom’s chief people officer Anne-Marie Lister.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.