It’s not easy to go more than a few days without seeing another new report or article examining the desire employees have to continue working from home long after the pandemic subsides. And while some employers have decided to maintain their remote arrangements on a permanent basis, most organizations anticipate that employees will begin returning to the office in late summer or early fall.
Balancing everything from worker concerns about health and safety to their wish for continued flexibility in terms of both where and when work gets done will be among the numerous considerations that organizations—and specifically talent acquisition—will need to address as we head towards a hybrid work model.
The hybrid model is very much a work in progress.
In the hybrid office model, as defined by PwC in a recent report summarizing employer and employee perspectives on working from home, “a large number of office employees rotate in and out of offices configured for shared spaces” while also working from home regularly. The strength lies in the model’s ability to accommodate “the flexibility that most employees (and some employers) crave after working from home for months.”
Yet, one of the challenges that may take time to sort out is how to address the gaps that exist in employer and employee attitudes. For example, the PwC research finds that even though 83% of executives “say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company,” most still believe that time in the office is vital to sustaining a positive company culture. Many employees would agree with that sentiment, too. The problem is that while 68% of the executives believe that it’s ideal for workers to be in the office somewhere between three and five days in order to maintain company culture, 55% of employees want to work from home between three and five days per week. Bridging the divide is likely to create unease on both sides, and the transition could take significant time to fully realize as options are tested and evaluated by corporate leaders.
Recruiters Need to Mitigate WFH Uncertainties
A return to the office may still be many months away, but recruiters are already feeling the pressure to increase talent attraction amid this uncertainty. This is good news, of course, and indicative of the high levels of optimism employers are reporting for 2021. A recent survey by Indeed reveals that “70% of employers predict their businesses will grow” this year, while Monster’s The Future of Work 2021 Global Outlook Special Report states that 82% of employers plan to hire this year, with the tech industry leading the way in terms of net new jobs for the year.
For recruiters, this means having to attract talent to the organization when the company’s post-coronavirus WFH plan is still being developed. The magnitude of the situation is not lost on them, either. Slightly more than one-quarter (26%) of recruiters responding to the Monster survey identified “work/life balance expectation” as one of the top three challenges they anticipate in 2021.
The most common workaround that recruiters are using to deal with the lack of long-term WFH clarity is to state within job postings that the role is currently remote while remaining vague on future arrangements and expectations. The dilemma this causes is that when new hire expectations don’t align with the company’s future plans, turnover can spike as employees decide to look for the flexibility they want elsewhere.
Thus, it’s important for talent acquisition to work with corporate leaders to define what flexibility will look like at the organization as workers return to the office. First and foremost, it will be essential to understand who will be able to continue working from home, who won’t and how the rationale will be shared both internally with current employees and externally with candidates. Other highly relevant questions to ask at this time include:
- How many days per week will employees be required to be in the office?
- Will employees determine which days they work in the office or will the schedule come from managers?
- Is there flexibility each week or do in-office days need to be set permanently?
- What will standard office hours be and, likewise, what will standard hours be for employees on the days spent working from home?
- Are new perks being made available to workers with roles that can’t be done from home to offset their frustrations at feeling left out?
The questions above only begin to scratch the surface of what is sure to be a highly complex transition as organizations work through the multitude of issues that will arise in establishing a new normal for office life. However, having the answers to them now is invaluable to the recruiters who must establish realistic expectations for candidates in order to ensure the right hire is made. Avoiding overpromises of flexibility will be critical to not just hiring exceptional talent today but holding on to these valuable employees long after the pandemic subsides.
We’ve got more GR8 recruiting insights for you on everything from what 2021 holds for talent acquisition technology to winning approaches to recruiting automation—visit our Resources Library today.