Having previously spoken about how changing employee expectations have sparked a ‘great realisation’ among employers as to the importance of supporting their workforce, it’s now time to examine the workforce landscape and how it is driving the need for action from business leaders.
Shifting demographics including shrinking birth rates, reduced mobility across borders and the rise in early retirees means talent availability is at an all-time low. Business leaders have to begin thinking more creatively around attracting, managing and retaining their talented workers. Especially considering ManpowerGroup research found that 69% of employers cannot find the skills that they need.
So what can business leaders do to ensure they continue to attract and retain the talented workers needed for organisational success?
Five workforce trends business leaders cannot ignore
A scarcity of skills in the market necessitates greater creativity from employers around talent management. While more than 30% of employers plan to increase wages in order to attract and retain talent, monetary compensation is no longer enough for many employees, as expectations around ongoing learning & development opportunities increase.
And it’s not only about meeting employee expectations. The skills revolution is in full-swing, and employers are in a race against time to re- and upskill their workforce to ensure individuals are well equipped to fulfill their roles – with 58% of employees requiring new skills to do their job. Business leaders must take steps to ensure that employees at every level of their organisation has access to ongoing learning & development opportunities, enabling them to update and refine their skillset in a shifting world of work.
The need for universal access to L&D coincides with the ubiquitous desire for equal opportunities. Organisations can no longer make assumptions regarding an individual’s willingness or want to learn based on their age. Research has found that people who are close to retiring are just as interested in learning new skills as their younger peers, even if there is no strict need for them to do so.
And yet many older employees are being overlooked for development opportunities, with around one in five workers over 40 having experienced age-related discrimination in some way at work, with this rising to 24% of those over 60 years of age. With the workforce steadily becoming younger, employers need to provide equal opportunities to all employees if they wish to retain experienced individuals who hold valuable skills and knowledge.
The question of equal opportunity comes into focus again when you consider the trends surrounding women in the workforce. Mass exodus from sectors typically dominated by women – education, health and hospitality – coincide with growth in tech, logistics and sales, where women are under-represented. Women are actively seeking career development opportunities, with 57% saying they plan to leave their current job within the next two years.
And while the pandemic is undeniably a contributing factor to this shift in direction, it’s also largely down to the fact that individuals have had time to re-evaluate their careers and identify needs and wants that perhaps weren’t being met by their previous roles or employers. Business leaders who offer a diverse and inclusive workplace culture will be best placed to attract the pool of talented women currently flooding the job market.
That being said, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) goes a lot further than just hiring talented women. Organisations will need to visibly action DEIB throughout their business as employees increasingly expect transparency around progress, and for their employer to be held accountable for their contribution to addressing social issues. While this isn’t news to business leaders, with over 30% having already deployed DEIB training programmes, more undoubtedly needs to be done.
Around 33% of managers across the UK have said that socio-economic background is still a barrier to career progression, while the UK government has been urged by MPs to introduce mandatory reporting of the pay gap between staff of different ethnicities as a means to address ongoing failure in tackling racial inequality in UK workplaces. When combined with the fact that millions of neuro-diverse individuals, including those who are disabled, are still being overlooked for employment opportunities, the need for businesses to take action against DEIB issues becomes paramount.
And as part of building a DEIB culture, the future of work must work for families. Employees now expect greater flexibility in their lives, and are seeking improved work-life balance. Whether that’s to allow for acting as a primary caregiver, or raising a young family – nearly one in four workers are now looking for employers who provide benefits around parental and caregiving leave.
Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive of Co-op Food recently announced that she will be taking a four-month career break to help her two sons prepare for school examinations. And a recent Opinium survey found that one in five young workers have left a job because of parental leave policies, while a further 25% decided not to apply for a role due to inadequacy in these policies. It’s clear that employers who provide caregivers across all genders and ages with flexibility and trust will attract and retain the best talent.