The recent rise in remote working has the potential to enlarge talent pools, but benefits, flexibility, and shared purpose are key to actually hiring people from it. Here's what we learned from our latest research.

The last 18 months have seen a huge change in the way we work. The impact of the COVID-19 hasn’t been felt equally, with the roughly 60% of workers unable to work remotely unevenly spread across sectors. Those better able to ‘work from home’ have been relatively less impacted.

A rise in 'remote working’ means that traditional geographic barriers are less of a constraint on companies looking to recruit. However, despite this potentially larger pool to draw from, the ability to find, attract, and keep talent is still challenging.

Our recent UK Business Outlook Tracker research found that 68% of UK mid-market businesses agreed that the changing working environment had highlighted skills gaps in their workforce. The latest global survey showed the trend continuing with 44% of respondents citing an inability to find key skills as a barrier to growth.

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In hospitality for example, where the impact of coronavirus has been long-lasting and far-reaching, there's hesitancy among the workforce as to how safe the working environment is. Elsewhere reduced access to European workers is causing difficulty in retail, hospitality, and across the food and beverage supply chain.

The difficulty in finding necessary skills is perhaps exacerbated by an increasing desire to hire. As businesses grow more confident in their outlook they intend to recruit more staff, with both our survey and the latest British Chambers of Commerce quarterly recruitment survey suggesting that we can expect a surge in recruitment.

The want to grow work forces, mixed with the current skills gap in the UK means that the hiring environment has become more competitive than ever. The IBR found that a quarter of businesses are planning real terms increase in salaries, the highest number of positive responses in five years.

However, on account of the changing work environment, the benefits people are looking for go beyond financial. Flexibility is now a number one priority for many employees. The idea that your business has a social purpose will also be key for many recruits moving forward.

People issues at a glance - UK vs global

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What our experts say...

"Location is no longer a barrier for the workplace. Many businesses have proven they can work successfully in a remote world. That means you can source your employees anywhere, but so can your competitors. And although a new normal will appear eventually, now is the time to think about how your development programmes can best address the challenges presented by current and future skills gaps."

Justin Rix, Partner and Head of People Advisory at Grant Thornton UK LLP 

How can you respond?

Between ongoing developments around Brexit and COVID-19, leaders and managers are faced with increasingly tough times that include an uncertain business environment, remote working, and changing business and operating models.

These shifting contexts can make even the most experienced managers feel uncertain and in need of support.

Read our five steps for rethinking leadership development to build individual and organisational resilience →

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