Employment Trends – what you need to know

As a recruitment agency, our conversation with clients often extends beyond recruitment itself. That’s always been the case, but it’s doubly so now. Those issues that impact on recruitment and retention such as pay, staff satisfaction, loyalty, recruitment, working from home, quiet quitting and ageism have never been in greater flux – and when you’re busy just holding things together, it’s easy to have short conversations that end up with the wrong conclusion and the opposite outcome of that intended. And the trouble is, employee churn is on the rise – which is the last thing you need when there’s a candidate shortage.

Here’s just a few things we’ve noticed:

Salary is now the top reason for leaving a job: For the first time ever, recent research on why people leave their job is headed by salary. Pay has always been important, but it’s usually been the 3rd or 4th reason why employees are thinking about leaving. In the context of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s become Top of the Pops. That puts extra pressure on wages – but the solution isn’t always to pay Top Dollar.

Older workers can be part of the solution: Part of the solution to the current candidate shortage is to look at older workers more openly. The contra to that is that older workers can slow down and become more conservative. “Wisdom” can bring a more rounded perspective, but it can also be a brake on change. Older workers come with experience that means they’re often not fazed by what others may regard as surprise events, but that experience could be outdated if they’ve not kept their skills and technical awareness up to date. Ageism exists (as do lots of other isms and biases) and this is a time for objective judgement to make sure employers aren’t passing up on people who can make a real organisational difference.

Working from home. Problems and opportunities: Working from home has become more widely accepted even now the pandemic is largely behind us, but there remains a lack of clarity about how it should be managed and communicated consistently across entire work forces and teams. Working from home tends to appeal more to younger workers, whereas company senior (and older) management tend to want staff to return to the workplace, because “Experience tells me we work better together”. That can bring conflict. From our experience working with employers, the worst outcomes seem to come from outfits who make day-to-day decisions. Managing remote workers needs a strategic and consistent approach and a new skill set – that takes a little courage to adopt.

The clamour for a 4-day week returns: Probably because it’s a candidate’s market, the 4-day week is perceived as part of the solution to staff churn. Yet there are real risks in building a “Them and Us” culture between those working 4 days, and those still working 5 (It happens: www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk), and the conversation is one that focuses on the workers, but there’s very little discussion about the impact on customers – and that’s one that could come back and bite. Hard.

Quiet quitting (defined broadly as doing the bare minimum): There’s a lot of talk right now about “Quiet Quitting” (doing the bare minimum, or working-to-rule, as workers, prompted by lockdowns, evaluate their work/life balance). To some extent, this has always been an issue, and often organised by groups of works, rather than undertaken on an individual basis. It’s one of the drivers behind increasing staff churn levels – that’s also fuelling employers costs as they look for replacement hires, and/or try to stem the flow.

You’ll find lots of experts, especially on social media (served with a large dollop of self-interest) peddling magic bullets and easy solutions. Our view is that the answers are not black and white and can be different company to company.

Talk to us. We don’t bite. And it’s all part of the service.

It may sound counter intuitive, but we’d prefer that our clients had lower staff churn rates, because that makes for more stability, better relationships and more long-term value for all of us.
Written by Martin Ellis martin@recruitmentsoutheast.co.uk

Martin doesn’t know everything but he’s a pretty good place to start for no nonsense advice and valuable insight into the world of employment.. Please contact him for a no pressure chat if you’d like to know more about the content…