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Why companies must get serious about hybrid hiring

A woman working on her computer
 
As we enter 2022, it is difficult to foresee exactly what the next 12 months have in store for us. If the last two years have taught us anything, expect the unexpected.

What we can be sure of is that we need to be agile enough to adapt to the ever-changing landscape in the world of work. The pandemic shifted work patterns overnight. Businesses had to change to ensure their workforce could operate effectively from home and a hybrid way of working has been the norm for many people over the best part of the last two years.
 
As well as hybrid working, hybrid hiring became a more considered option. Without the need for a 24-hour office, why would companies restrict their hiring to just the city, or even country, where they are based?
 
The Hays report, “Workplace Realities for 2022”, found: “The ability to work remotely increases flexibility for both employees and employers; expanding where employees can work from, and employers can hire from, in the future. It also raises the possibility of hiring workers to work remotely from abroad (termed ‘telemigration’). This increases the talent pool of workers available to organisations and may enable them to hire lower-cost labour.”
 
Despite this, however, it seems as though many businesses are falling back into their old habits. As highlighted in the Remote Leadership Report by Terminal: “1 in 5 leaders don’t have a strategy for finding talent in a remote work environment. In fact, nearly half plan to mostly look in the region surrounding their offices.”

The benefits of hybrid hiring

Retaining current and attracting new staff – The last two years have made many of us reassess what we want from life. Greater flexibility in our work lives is more important than ever. Having an employer that understands that is crucial.

Last year I wrote about the Great Resignation, the phenomenon that 41% of people were seriously considering leaving their current job in the next 12 months.
 
A study from Vlerick Business School in Belgium noted the importance of flexibility. Professor Katleen de Stobbeleir said: “Flexibility in working location and hours is good for your employer branding as younger employees want more control in this area. Employees in other phases of life, such as young parents or caregivers, will also embrace the chance to work from home.”

Companies who fail to show they are embracing a hybrid way of working will not only damage their chances of holding onto talent but will also struggle to attract new recruits. As noted by Terminal CEO, Clay Kellogg, in Forbes: “Beyond limiting the candidate pool and slowing down hiring, the process itself may turn off would-be remote employees. When remote is treated as an afterthought, distributed candidates will pick up on it and be less likely to accept an offer if one is extended.”

Greater flexibility, improved work-life balance and reduction in time and money spent on commuting are just some benefits of remote working for the employee. In March 2021, Microsoft released a report that showed 73% of those surveyed wanted flexible remote work options to continue in the future. The 2021 Work Trend Index said: “Employees want control of where, when, and how they work, and expect businesses to provide options.”
 
Broader talent pools – Another benefit of hybrid hiring is an expanded talent pool from which to hire. We enter a new year with acute skills shortages across many professions. There are simply not enough people with the right skills to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow. I spoke about some of the methods we as business leaders can undertake to fill this skills gap here.

If hiring managers open the recruitment pool to beyond what they deem commutable distance to their office space, there is a potentially enormous number of workers that could bring real value to your business.

Wagestream, a fast-growing FinTech, noted 85% of their employees were London-based before the pandemic. In a news article by the London Evening Standard in November 2021, that figure had changed to 50%.

Of course, there are challenges to hybrid hiring, as noted in the Hays report. Regulation, tax, customer needs, time-zones and security issues may constrain the number of jobs that are truly borderless.

However, opening your recruitment search within your country borders rather than abroad alleviates some of those sticking points, whilst still be able to cast your hiring net further afield.
 

Increased diversity – Another potential benefit of hybrid hiring is increased diversity in your workforce. When I wrote about how we could all overcome the skills shortage, I noted that there was “an opportunity for businesses to create a more diverse, equal and inclusive workforce.” I believe the same is true of hybrid hiring.

The Hays report found that women were more adversely affected by the pandemic than men: “This is likely due to a number of factors, including female employment being more concentrated in worse-hit sectors, and women being more likely to take a greater role in childcare and caring for family members, meaning they were more likely to exit the labour market during the crisis.”

These added pressures have led to burnout escalating faster among women than in men. According to McKinsey: “One in three women says that they have considered downshifting their career or leaving the workforce this year, compared with one in four who said this a few months into the pandemic.”

And there are other groups who would benefit your business if hybrid hiring was implemented. According to a 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, over six million people in the US workforce have some form of disabilityIn the UK, that figure was 4.4 million in Q2 of 2021. The disability employment rate in that period was 52.7%, compared to 81.0% for non-disabled people.

Whilst there are many factors contributing to the above, hybrid hiring and working can help. What may seem like a simple commute to an office for some, can be highly challenging for others. A hybrid approach can play some part in levelling the playing field.

A hybrid model of hiring and working in general removes some of the pressure on those to commute, to consider childcare, or to think about the school run, whilst improving your company’s diversity. After all, diversity strengthens companies and cultures and, as leaders, we should be playing an active role in supporting groups who face barriers to succeed in their careers. In doing so, we are helping build a better world of work.

What are you waiting for?

The benefits of hybrid hiring could not be clearer. But are we honestly doing enough to create a successful model that will improve our businesses and the working experience for our employees?

There is evidence that companies are not taking hybrid hiring and office-less working entirely seriously. In research by McKinsey last year, whilst nine out of 10 businesses surveyed combined remote and in-office working, 68% had no detailed strategy to communicate regarding their hybrid plans. This is dangerous and opens businesses to the distinct possibility of missing out on the benefits listed above.

As we enter a new year, it is clear that 2022 will be full of challenges. But they are challenges we can overcome if we do not slip into old habits, but instead embrace change. Hybrid hiring has the potential to improve the future of work.

About this author

Alistair has been the CEO of Hays, plc since Sept. 2007. An aeronautical engineer by training (University of Salford, UK, 1982), Alistair commenced his career at British Aerospace in the military aircraft division. From 1983-1988, he worked Schlumberger filling a number of field and research roles in the Oil & Gas Industry in both Europe and North America. He completed his MBA (Stanford University, California) in 1991 and returned to the UK as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. His experience at McKinsey & Co covered a number of sectors including energy, consumer goods and manufacturing.

He moved to Blue Circle Industries in 1994 as Group Strategy Director, responsible for all aspects of strategic planning and international investments for the group. During this time, Blue Circle re-focused its business upon heavy building material in a number of new markets and in 1998, Alistair assumed the role of Regional Director responsible for Blue Circle’s operations in Asia, based in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. He was responsible for businesses in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. Subsequent to the acquisition of Blue Circle by Lafarge in 2001, he also assumed responsibility for Lafarge’s operations in the region as Regional President for Asia.

In 2002, Alistair returned to the UK as CEO of Xansa, a UK based IT services and back-office processing organisation. During his 5 year tenure at Xansa, he re-focused the organisation to create a UK leading provider of back-office services across both the Public and Private sector and built one of the strongest offshore operations in the sector with over 6,000 people based in India.

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