Attracting Diverse Talent: How Collaboration is Key
As unemployment rates continue to fall, key skills are becoming much harder (and more expensive) to find. Businesses who are tied to traditional operating models may find that they are at an additional disadvantage too. Unable to convince the people they need to come and work in their offices, these organisations are pushing those skills towards their competitors.
The changing face of the millennial workplace
Anyone born before the 1990s is well acquainted with the traditional office-bound ways of working, and up until the late 90s agile working was seen as rather unusual - although it started gaining traction in the 2000s. But when the Millennial generation started entering the workplace, flexible and remote working were already high on the agenda, and this new generation had a different way of looking at work and how they could be most productive.
An extensive survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers – Workforce of the Future – documented some of these Millennial expectations, including:
- Just 29% expect to work ‘regular’ office hours.
- 32% expect to be working only flexible hours.
- One quarter expect to work regular (9 to 5) office hours.
The increasingly project-based nature of work means that Millennials are anticipating a constant ebb-and-flow of tasks as their workload changes from day to day, and week to week. Looking further ahead, 60% believe that most people will not enjoy stable, long-term employment in the future.
Give me control of my life
When asked what they value most about work, PwC found that 25% of all workers (not just Millennials) value “flexibility and being control of the work they do and when.” For traditional businesses this is a terrifying prospect – a quarter of potential employees want greater control of their workload and scheduling, and by extension, the right not to come into the office. Another study by the ADP Research Institute found that 82% of younger workers expect to be able to define their own work schedule.
Salary is important to younger workers, but other factors heavily influence their career choices; a good work/life balance, opportunities to train for leadership, and flexible working are the most important non-salary factors considered by millennials in a 2016 Deloitte study.
Presenteeism is dying
As Millennials begin to make up more of the workforce, we can expect these requirements to become the standard. As a result, businesses will be forced to change the way they work, updating processes to support flexible and remote working, in particular.
But this is not a case of pandering to greedy, lazy employees. Millennials are motivated by productivity, not presenteeism. So long as the job gets done properly, they reason, why hang around at work any longer than is necessary. And if that work can be done from home, so much the better.
It is hard to fault that logic.
Updating technology and mindsets
To attract the brightest and best, your business is going to have to seriously reconsider how it views work, productivity and collaboration. If the most skilled candidates want to work remotely according to a schedule of their own making, you need to look at the technologies needed to make that a reality. Furthermore, some of the most talented potential employees may be based in locations where it would be impractical or impossible for them to attend a physical office.
With a geographically dispersed workforce, collaboration will be almost totally reliant on technology platform of choice. The tools you use must support co-working to the same level as if your team was based in the same physical office.
Without that virtual proximity, efficiency and productivity will lag. Get it right, however, and everyone benefits, including those employees who do work in the office. Collaboration technologies like Microsoft Office 365 can be used everywhere; just because two people are sat in the same office does not mean they cannot benefit from co-authoring tools that allow them to work on the same document simultaneously for instance.
In a survey conducted by Navisite, real-time co-authoring is being used by the majority of respondents daily, but 41% – a sizeable minority – still lack access to these tools or do not use them daily. This places those employees, and your business in general, at a disadvantage to better equipped competitors.
Importantly, choosing a Cloud-based productivity suite dramatically simplifies the process of scaling infrastructure to cope with a constantly changing workforce. Should predictions about the project-based employment model come true, you can quickly add or remove capacity as teams grow temporarily – and you never end up paying for unused redundancy.
One word of warning
Flexible working will also prove vital to retaining the talent you already have onboard. According to the Deloitte study, two thirds of Millennials expected to leave their current employer by 2020, and many will decide to join an organisation that offers better benefits – including flexible working. The number one challenge to enabling effective organisation according to Navisite research is “changing and different working styles and habits” – which makes it vital that the right tools are in place to adapt to these new expectations.
It’s also important to note that Millennial users have a low loyalty threshold – if they feel an acceptable work-life cannot be achieved, they will walk. Which puts you back into the fight to attract replacement talent.
The workplace is changing, driven by the next generation of workers. Your business must stay ahead of these changes if you want to attract the finest talent.
To learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 can open the way to improved collaboration and flexible working, please get in touch.