Recruitment - the biggest challenge

25th of October 2022
Recruitment - the biggest challenge

The sector must tackle the issue of attracting and retaining staff, says Lynn Webster in the UK.

A recent article in ECJ (June 2022) highlighted the issue we are now facing known as the ‘Great Resignation’, as we all adapt our lives to the changing emphasis of work/life balance.
Recruitment is regularly voiced as the greatest challenge so there is certainly a need for us all to consider not only how we attract new employees to our workforce, but how we encourage those we do have to stay.

With changeover to a hybrid of workplace and home working becoming more commonplace and unlikely to disappear any time soon, we must rethink. Of course the cleaning and FM industry involves many roles that cannot function in this way so do not lend themselves to that environment but some of the thinking still remains essential and relevant. We have an ageing workforce - the Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980 - so new ways of attracting future generations will be increasingly challenging.

Certainly, the Millennials born between 1982 and 1994 demonstrate a clear focus; questioning previously accepted working conditions, with different boundaries, exercising their influence in the workplace as a key means of keeping engaged in their work roles. Purpose is on the minds of many, which can bring great satisfaction or alternatively drive them to look for employment elsewhere.

For Millennials, purpose affects how they see their future. They are willing to walk away from jobs that lack meaning. Where work has meaning - where it’s more than “just a job” - employees are more likely to stay and even more likely to remain if they feel their voice is valued, regardless of their position. So, the answer lies in helping them find meaning in their work. Give them a reason, many reasons, to be proud to work for you and they’ll stay working for you. Making the effort to give your workforce a sense of purpose and hopefully in return, experience higher retention, pride, and endorsement from your team.

We then consider experiences of the ‘Gen Z’s’ born since 1997; the up-and-coming generation where potential employees not only desire but almost demand the work/life balance (time off, flexibility, wellbeing, mental health support etc), from their employers and workplace. And expecting their employers to be accountable in terms of social and environmental responsibility; fair pay and value alignment. Wanting it all and willing to walk away if they don’t get it.

It is not what an employee can offer their company but more what they are expecting from work, with a boldness we have not seen before. The phrase “what are you going to offer me to make me stay working for you?” is commonplace.

A recent report from a colleague led to further consideration of the approaches we make to potential younger recruits. For example, recruitment of a potential receptionist who felt it acceptable to request ‘flexible working’ during the working week with perhaps core days being Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. A significant challenge to manage the office reception desk from home?!!

The question is, are we ready to provide for this new outlook on the world of employment; or will we bury our heads in the sand? Certainly not an easy question to answer but one that will not go away.


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