With the Government’s Budget unveiling incentives for over-50s and parents to return to work, the onus is now on businesses to ensure they are geared up to attract and retain them, argues Crown Workforce Management’s Dougal Jamieson, who spells out how bosses can integrate this pool of talent into their company for the long-haul.
There are currently over one million job vacancies in the UK, and a significant driver of this, according to the Government, are individuals who are “economically inactive” or in other words – those who are not actively seeking a job.
These could be skilled people who have retired early due to the pandemic, or parents who have paused their careers in order to care for their children full-time because they cannot afford the rising costs of childcare.
While the Government has tried to address this double conundrum in the Budget by extending 30 hours of free childcare to children from nine months old, alongside introducing ‘returnships’ and removing the £1m cap on tax-free pensions, the gauntlet has now been laid down to businesses to make the most of one of the biggest policy shake-ups for some time.
Many parents and over-50s have a wealth of expertise in certain fields as well as general life experience that would add value to many workplaces if they didn’t have to commit to a rigid set of shift patterns every week.
Therefore, now is the time for businesses to reappraise their operational demand, and explore how their workforce can best meet it with new and efficient shift patterns. Organisations that are able to attract a range of demographic groups back to the workplace through innovative working arrangements, will be best placed to address the skills shortages that many currently face.
Any effective work pattern needs to take account of both operational/service demand (i.e., the work that the employer requires the workforce to do) alongside other factors including the working life aspirations of the employees. And in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, this trade-off has become ever more important with employee health and wellbeing and work-life balance considerations moving further up the agenda.
By thinking outside of the box, it’s possible to develop flexible shift patterns that allow different demographics to plug gaps where a business may be under resourced at peak times. And such arrangements could genuinely deliver a win-win for both employers and employees: for example, where a staff member only wants to work for four hours a day, that might represent an opportunity for that employee to work a particular time slot when the business is really busy, and from a financial efficiency perspective, they will only get paid for when they are needed.
Of course, any new working arrangements are still subject to day-to-day changes in the face of short-term fluctuations in demand or abstractions from the workforce. Therefore, alongside any strategic shift planning, it is also key to ensure that organisations adopt modern workforce management systems that not only help to schedule various shift patterns and highlight potential inefficiencies, but also improve internal communications by giving staff the convenience of viewing their upcoming shifts and being able to makes shift changes at their convenience – i.e., via a smartphone.
These latest announcements from the Government to encourage over-50s and parents back to work should serve as a wake-up call to businesses adopting traditional working patterns – if they don’t heed this warning, then they could risk being left behind when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in the future.