Think Hybrid - Attract Top Talent

Following on from a challenging few years, what we are seeing now is a shift in attitude towards the workplace. The extended lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 gave people a chance to reflect and change priorities. As a result, many are now choosing to fit work into their lives, rather than having lives that squeeze into work.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted today’s employment landscape. Recruiting has become increasingly difficult - especially in New Zealand, with the brain drain well underway again and skilled workers leaving for ‘greener pastures’ - so now there’s a real contest for talent.

To attract and retain the right people, employers should play it smart.

What workers really want

According to global research, it’s not just about the salary anymore. Existing and potential employees are becoming more selective about the conditions around employment, and hybrid working has emerged as a key factor in securing top talent in today’s buoyant job market.

In fact, in an international poll of 2,000 office workers, 88% of them said hybrid working was the leading employee benefit they would expect in a new role. And, for many of them, it was seen as more than just a benefit: nearly 50% said they would only consider roles that allowed them to work in a hybrid way, dividing their time between home and office.

Why has this form of working become so popular?

Again, it comes back to the fact that people are now seeking out a better work/life balance, and thanks to the pandemic, they’ve had a taste of what this means. Furthermore, they are asking themselves “Can I go back to doing what I did before. Actually, should I?” The tendency now is to prioritise the important things, and put health and wellbeing over work.

Hybrid working = the ideal mix?

While working from home most certainly has its benefits - including greater flexibility, less stress from commuting, time and energy savings, and the opportunity to spend more of the day with family and loved ones - solely working from home is not necessarily what people want or need.

Being away from the shared work environment can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. People miss that sense of connectedness and companionship that comes with face-to-face interaction and being around colleagues. Work relationships and team spirit can ebb. There is also the very real issue of ‘Zoom fatigue’ - i.e., that sense of exhaustion you feel after hours of video calls.

So the office side of the hybrid equation is equally important for continued wellbeing.

More flexibility = boosted productivity

Perhaps one of the biggest mindset adjustments for employers is to realise that just because their workers are off-site, doesn’t mean they are not working hard.

If anything, studies have shown that productivity can be enhanced by the hybrid model. This has a lot to do with giving employees agency and allowing them the flexibility to choose when and how they work best.

In the ‘Future of Work’ survey conducted by global heavyweight Accenture in 2021, more than 9,000 workers were polled around the world, and of those, 83% believed hybrid is the optimal way of working, because it offers the best of both worlds. In broad terms, the home is generally seen as a place for individual, focused work, while the office enables collaboration and collective creativity.
A happier workforce tends to be a more productive one, and the wellbeing benefits of hybrid working are becoming increasingly clear.

So in conclusion, to attract and retain today’s top talent, a big pay packet alone isn’t going to cut it. People’s priorities have changed. And hybrid working, which brings more freedom in terms of working locations and also wellbeing advantages, is now seen as a key benefit in a new job. Employers will have to embrace this concept in order to remain competitive.