Key to Attracting Agile Talent Pool is Flexibility

by Andrew Murphy, Director at Coopman

Over the past ten months, the world of employment has dramatically changed. In February of this year, competition for talent in the financial services industry was fierce as Ireland was very close to full employment across all sectors. Companies offered high salaries, attractive benefits and state-of-the-art office spaces to attract and retain the best talent. A month later, companies embraced the unexpected transition to remote working, quickly implementing the technology, security and policies required for employees to work from home. And now, as Ireland looks to reboot its economy, employers in the financial services industry will need to be more flexible to accommodate and support a more accessible and agile workforce.

The hybrid working model

After months of remote working, most employees are ready for a change in routine and are eager to get back to the office environment, with some feeling “cabin fever” setting in and others frustrated with longer working hours. The benefits, however, of remote working have not gone unmissed, with many professionals sharing that working from home has a positive impact on their productivity and efficiency, while allowing for more time to be spent in their family homes. As a result, companies will likely embrace a hybrid working model whereby employees will divide their working week between the office and home environment. And as a recent study of Irish workers found that 80% of participants favoured a hybrid working model upon returning to the office, it appears that employees are in support of this approach.

The decentralisation of the Irish workforce

With the removal of restrictive five-day working weeks in busy city centres, professionals will have increased flexibility to live and work in different locations across Ireland. Similarly, companies will have increased access to countrywide talent pools, which were not previously available in the absence of agile working models. While professionals may be more willing to commute longer distances to city-based offices for their allocated office-based days as part of hybrid working, companies may also start to consider how they can accommodate the decentralisation of the workforce. Organisations such as KPMG and Deloitte are exploring the hub and spoke model, which involves establishing small branches in locations that are more accessible to employees. While Glandore has seen a massive increase in interest in their flexible office offering from companies looking to provide an optional working space for employees.

The demand for contract work

Contracting or interim opportunities may become more prevalent in Ireland. As companies look to manage their costs and headcount, and maintain an agile approach to their recruitment activity, they likely will increasingly turn to interim solutions that offer maximum impact for their businesses. With the current Covid-19 adjusted unemployment rate at 15.4%, the market is in favour of the employer due to a strong supply of suitable individuals immediately available for work. However, there is also a newly discovered interest for contracting amongst financial services professionals, as it allows for increased flexibility and improved work-life balance while providing the opportunity for individuals to grow their networks and gain experience in leading organisations.

As Ireland reboots and the economy rebuilds, new employment trends will emerge that support a more flexible, agile and accessible workforce. While there is no doubt that further consideration and attention will be required to ensure successful performance levels, engagement and retention, employers across all sectors need to adapt and support the next world of employment.

This article first appeared in Business & Finance September 2020.

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