With so much going on in your company, it’s easy to lose sight of the employment and industry landscapes changing shape right under your nose. We’ve seen four main trends that, if you step back, are probably happening in your firm right now:
1. You’re right, the workforce is getting younger…
Millennials – the generation aged in their early twenties to almost 40 – are powering today’s workforce, while around 2 million people are set to retire in the UK between 2016 and 2020. Values have changed along with the working landscape; younger people are conscious of their work-life balance, and will protect it fiercely.
Companies are becoming more creative with their perks; it’s no longer enough to just offer a large salary, when that alone can’t solve the problems of enjoying free time, getting to work, starting a family or organising work around family life.
Attitude-wise, millennials are carrying the burden of student loans that their parents were free from; while they might be a little jaded from this (and seeing the effects of the recession), they tend towards being more flexible, loyal and entrepreneurial. How do you make the most of this generation? Make sure they have mentors and a strong support network.
2. …and more flexible
Freelancing and contracting are increasingly attractive options for those who want to break out of the 9 to 5 altogether, or at least work on their terms and not worry about long-term commitment. They need the option of working outside of core hours – a must when business is now more global and competitive than ever.
The younger generation of this workforce know there’s no such thing as a job for life, so they develop specialised skills and work ‘side hustles’. Don’t think they’re not loyal, though; a happy and productive ‘consultant’ will come back and offer you their skills and competitor experience again and again. You could say they’re professional ‘boomerangs’ (more of that very shortly)…
3. ‘Hello again!’
It’s becoming increasingly common to see former employees (‘boomerangs’) swipe back in through the company doors not long after they’ve left. Make no mistake; it’s not because the outside world had nothing to offer them, in the same way that they’re not always leaving because your company had nothing to offer them either. It’s because company polices have become more relaxed; it’s a smart decision to re-hire someone you know, and who knows how the company rolls.
Your industry is also a small world; when a former employee has seen the inside of your competitors, the smart thing to do is get them back in to share what they’ve learned. As always, social media blurs the lines – when employees leave, they stay in touch with former colleagues. After months or years away, it can be like they’ve never left. Bridges were meant to be crossed in both directions, so don’t shut out your experienced and familiar talent. The next time you’re at a leaving party, have a quiet word with HR to make sure their entry key isn’t entirely deactivated…
4. Office refurbs are being remixed
Office design is more than just rejigging seats and desks; done right, it’s a great way to encourage collaboration (and quiet spaces for more introspective work). If your company is growing, that’s always a good thing, but you might find the office gets smaller as a result. Your employees are looking to you for ways to mitigate this; give them remote access, move to a smaller office if you have to reduce your physical space, and ask them about the ways they’d like to work.
Paying attention to their happiness will boost productivity; small changes such as easily moved furniture, informal breakout areas and appropriate meeting space are quick and easy to implement. They give the maximum value for the least pain and cost if well thought-through.