Tag Archives: flexible working

How the UK Skills Shortage Will Boost Flexible Working

War on Talent Continues as Top Talent Demand Flexible Working

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August 2014 saw a record drop in the number of candidates applying for permanent and full-time jobs, a recent report commissioned by the Bank of Scotland has revealed

The Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae consolidates the report’s findings: ‘There was a record drop in people available for jobs and growing evidence of strong growth in pay, confirming the tightening of the jobs market’. However, this drop has been countered by a marked increase in individuals applying for short-term and part-time roles, confirming that the Scottish jobs market continues to go “from strength to strength”.

The change may be interpreted as a result of the skills shortage currently affecting the UK. A dearth of skilled candidates means that certain sectors continue to struggle to fill full-time positions, including the medical and care sectors, IT and computing and the engineering sector.

“A huge number of skilled candidates have been excluded from the job market because of a lack of part-time roles and flexible working positions. The ongoing skills shortage means that these professionals are highly sought-after, and are in a strong position to dictate their salaries and working conditions, including work schedules’. Flexiworkforce CEO Tracey Eker confirms.

Nevertheless, the growth in flexible, part-time and short contract positions may also be seen as a boon for employers seeking to broaden their talent pool by increasing their access talented candidates.

By hiring candidates on a flexible basis, companies can effectively get the skills that their business needs, for the money they can afford, something especially vital for emerging SMEs, many of whom rely on contractual workers. In particular, engineering and construction saw a marked increase in temporary job openings. This suggests that this rise modern flexible working has come about as a mutually beneficial option, resulting from the convergence in the needs of employees and businesses.

The skills shortage shows no sign of stopping, meaning that level of bargaining power that workers have to negotiate their working conditions is only set to increase. As the war for talent rages on, it is likely that flexibility will be a major factor in determine which companies ultimately survive, thrive and fail.

‘The last bastion of differentiation in the fight for mind share and market share for a business is its people. Yet hiring, retaining and motivating the best talent is no easy task in an age where loyalty to one job for life, or even five years, is starting to sound prehistoric’. Eker states.

‘Developing a flexible company culture that will help attract, retain and motivate the best employees to achieve amazing results is essential’.

Click here for more information on how you can hire the best candidates for your business.

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Flexible Working Thought Leaders

In a new series featuring leaders in the world of flexible working, we speak to Work From Home Wisdom blogger Judy Heminsley.

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Judy is the founder of Work from Home Wisdom, a blog that provides advice and inspiration for home workers, and author of Work from Home (How To Books).She was a pioneer of Jelly coworking events in the Uk, and her How to Start Your Own Jelly guide is available on the blog.

How did you start working from home and what inspired you to begin writing about the subject

I didn’t plan to work from home at all! I just fell into it when I helped to set up a cleaning business in the 80s. As a new business we wanted to keep costs down, and running it from a spare bedroom was the obvious choice. I ran the business for 12 years, employing over 20 part-time staff, and never considered moving out of home into separate premises.

Having sold the business and moved to Cornwall I stumbled on the MA Professional Writing course at Falmouth University. No, there was no big plan to any of this! As a non-fiction writer I had to come up with a book idea for my thesis, research the market, write sample chapters and submit it as a commercial book proposal. It was when I was thinking about this that I realised that almost everything I’d done for the past 20 years had been based at home. I discovered there were no current books about working from home, and so there was my idea.

The great thing about the course was that the thesis not only got me my MA but later led to a book contract with How To Books. I set up the blog as a way to keep the subject fresh, not knowing that such a lot was about to happen – coworking spaces, Jelly, mobile and flexible working etc – and that the blog would grow along with it.

Do you think that employers attitudes to remote/agile ways of working are changing?

Yes and no. Marissa Mayer’s decision to take staff back into the office at Yahoo was disappointing, but I feel there was a lot more behind it than was made public. The vast majority of my readers are freelancers or home business owners, and some are employed by corporates who appreciate the benefits of home and flexible working. So it’s always a shock to hear about employers who don’t want to let staff out of their sight, as the advantages seem so obvious. But the 9-5 ethic is so deeply ingrained in our psyche.

What is your opinion of the UK government’s recent changes to flexible working legislation? Do you see the change as a step in the right direction or are you of the view that more needs to be done to improve access to flexible working?

As a former employer I’m very aware of the effects of employment legislation on business, particularly small businesses, so I’m maybe less militant about this than you might expect! It’s a step in the right direction. It’s much easier for the self-employed as they can change working practices instantly, as long as they still get the work done.

What do you think the future holds for flexible and remote working? Do you think there will be a greater uptake of remote working in the future?

As technology enables more people to do more, wherever they are, inevitably it will become more widespread. I also see the ageing population as a major driver, as more people need to combine work with caring for elderly relatives for an extended period of time. This is already affecting me and all my friends, and it will become a massive factor in many more people’s lives. One home worker I know looks after three elderly relatives, all living in different places across the UK.

 In your opinion, what is the best thing about working from home?

For me, it’s having the freedom to mix work and personal commitments in any way I choose. I’ve always enjoyed taking time off when I wanted, and working early or late because I was in the mood. Now that I’m a distance carer for both my parents, working from home enables me to handle their household affairs during office hours, and contact banks, utility companies and so on if necessary. My sister, who works full-time, simply can’t do this.

Follow Judy via TwitterPinterest and Google +.

For more tips on working remotely click here

Find UK-wide remote flexible working/home working opportunities on  flexiworkforce.com 

 

How to Write an Effective Personal Profile

 

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A key concern to bear in mind when putting together a new CV is the personal statement, sometimes called a candidate profile or career summary, that allows the employer or recruiter to quickly identify your core skills and the value that you can bring to the business. Your personal profile should be concise and persuasive enough to convince the recruiter that you are a candidate more than worth interviewing.

Summarising your entire career history into a short 50-200 word paragraph (no more) may at first seem like a daunting task. Indeed, many candidates find it difficult to stick to a few core points, and end up rambling as a result. However, following these few simple steps will enable you to quickly create a compelling profile for your CV

1. Match Your Profile to Your Job Specification

This may seem obvious, but tailoring your experience and skillset to the job description is one of the most important things you can when attempting to show how you would be perfect for the role in question. If you believe that you are a perfect fit for the role,

It’s important to read the job specification carefully and ensure not only that your skills and experience match but you reflect this in your statement.

2. First or third person?

It can be difficult to know whether you should write your profile in the first or third person, as there are no definitive rules about what is best. However, some CV writers are of the view that first person is preferable, in that it gives your CV a sense of direct authenticity that third person does not. In a CV, you are essentially telling the story of your life, and arguably, writing in the first person is most effective way to do this. Crucially, never mix the two!

3. Include the following 

-Who are you? (What is your employment background and education)?

-How will your skills help the organisation? (Be sure to match your own skills and experiences closely to the job specifications!)

 4. Finish with a career aim

This will show employer that you have ambition, and are capable of proving your skills in order to move up in their organisation. Again, try to match this to the job description or the role provided.

 Example:

“As recent graduate from Strathclyde University, with a 2:1 honours degree in International Marketing, I have undertaken several internships within local start-up businesses such as Glasgow Radio and Clyde PR. These placements have enabled me to develop not only specific marketing industry experience, but also key transferable skills set in this fast-paced sector.

During placement with Glasgow Radio, I worked in the marketing team contributing to projects – such as social media campaign– and managed my own research, liaised with journalists and the digital marketing manager, put together media reports and participated in group project meetings. Using excellent communication skills, I developed and maintained successful working relationships with those round about me.

 Looking to secure a position in marketing/PR, where I can add value to the organisation and continue to build on my current skillset further”.

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The Importance of Employee Engagement

Are You doing enough to motivate your workforce?

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Arguably, the biggest single threat to staff retention and productivity within the workplace is the issue of employee engagement. Employee engagement may be defined as a way of working whereby employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values and motivated to contribute to the overall success of the business, while at the same time being able to enhance their own sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Employee engagement is vital to the successful running of an organisation in two different ways:

  1. Employee engagement improves employee attitude, meaning that the employee will feel a sense of loyalty and pride at being part of the organisation, as a result of the support and positive reinforcement they receive.
  2. Employee engagement will improve the employee’s actions, meaning their output and productivity. This is because the engaged worker feels a sense of accomplishment in completing a task well, knowing that their actions will be appreciated and appropriately rewarded by their employer.

There is evidence to suggest that failure to properly engage employees may have a detrimental effect upon company growth. Studies have shown that absenteeism is 37% worse for organisations with disengaged workers, while there is a 4% increase in safety incidents within disengaged workplaces. Furthermore, it has been discovered that productivity plummets by 21% when workers are not properly engaged.

It’s clear, therefore, that proper employee engagement is vital to maintenance and growth of a business, and must be an integral part of your long-term strategy. Here is a brief guide to engaging your employees and securing the growth of your business.

 Do not confuse engagement with short-term happiness

You might offer unlimited holidays, free beer on Fridays and a host of other benefits designed to instil a relaxed, positive working culture. However, this will count for nothing unless your employees are properly engaged. As a result, is important to consider what will really make your employees feel more motivated and fulfilled, rather than hoping that flexible benefits will be enough to keep your staff feeling motivated and keen to improve.

Think CSR

Corporate social responsibility is the way forward, and is increasingly becoming the main way in which companies attract and retain new candidates. This is because the millennial generation are overwhelmingly preoccupied with CSR. 80% of a sample of 1,800 13-25 year olds claimed that their ideal workplace would be one which cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. The majority of this claimed they would refuse to work an ‘irresponsible’ organisation.

One way of improving your business’s CSR might be the introduction of ‘flex-days’ in which time could be devoted to helping out at local charities or projects within the wider community. Building your company’s social responsibility will be vital to harnessing the talented candidates needed for it to grow and thrive.

Make the most of positivity and reinforcement.

Psychologists claim that self-determination is vital for true employee engagement, meaning that staff must feel personally invested in the business in order to deliver maximum productivity and favourable results. How to instil a sense of self-determination in your staff? One way might be to encourage your employees to choose their own projects to work on. By allotting time each week for your staff to work on their own projects autonomously, you will allow them to feel increased pride in their work, and this will contribute to more employee engagement overall.

Also highly important is adequate support and feedback, which will allow your employees to feel that their results are being measured and dully rewarded, which in the long-term will aid staff retention.

Flexibility and Trust will allow your employees to work like adults

Fostering a culture of trust within your workplace is key to truly engaged employees. Employees who are trusted to work to a high standard without constant supervision will deliver optimum results. Employees who are chained to their desk and not trusted to work independently will have less motivation to prove their worth! Studies have proven that flexibility at work makes for increased productivity, whereas ridged ‘presenteeism’ stifles creativity. In short, accommodating the need for flexibility in your business will lead to genuine engagement throughout your organisation.

Women Remain Cut off From High-Paying Opportunities, Earn 35% Less than Male Counterparts

Tracey Eker speaks out on ongoing workplace discrimination

This week it was revealed that female bosses earn an average of 35% less than male colleagues at the same level. More than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, it is clear prejudice persists in the UK workplace, and the extent of it is shocking.

CEO and founder Tracey Eker was asked to appear on STV Glasgow’s primetime news slot, in which she discussed the issue of women being squeezed out of their existing roles after returning from maternity leave, or excluded from high earning positions. She recalls the discrimination she faced after having her first child:

‘During my maternity leave with my first child I experienced some of the negativity women are faced with from employers.

This really dampened my time off and soured my whole entry back into the workforce. I was made to travel excessively as if to prove a point that I couldn’t do it all like I used to. That relationship quickly came to a close and I decided to stay home with my baby’

Tracey then began looking for part-time work, but was disappointed to discover a distinct lack of transparency if job advertisements, with many employers seemingly unwilling to be upfront about the availability of flexible working in their organisations.  A ‘lightbulb moment’ ensued, and Tracey got the idea to start her own online job site, designed specifically as a platform to connect skilled candidates who need or desire flexible working with the employers who need their skills:

‘Having children really showed me the lack of provision of flexible working within the workplace and highlighted the need for employers to be more upfront about the types of workplace flexibility they could/have on offer.  So in a way, my children are responsible for me coming up with Flexiworkforce in the first place!’

The idea of transparency in job advertisements surrounding the availability of flex-time, homeworking and other modes of flexibility is paramount to women finally  being able to break through the glass ceiling and break down the barrier of ‘presenteeism’.  It is clear that though employers preach diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities, these ideas are less easy for organisations to actually put into practice.

The message is clear- only when employers make flexible working accessible will women’s participation be truly representative, and their earnings equal to that of men.