Employers - some New Year's resolutions for you!

New Year

I’m changing tack this year. My annual New Year’s blog is not necessarily aimed at my clients but, rather, at their employers and line-managers

As I careers consultant I am fortunate to enjoy a very broad and varied client base. The people I work with come from a huge range of industries and filter through all levels of experience. Yet, despite this, the same work-based issues occur time and time again as the reason they come to see me. As much as I really do believe I can help them by offering ideas, a new perspective, a plan, a listening ear… my help can only go so far, as it is restricted by the reality of the working world and, often, the attitudes of their employers (or potential employers). If you are an employer, or if you have management or recruitment responsibilities, please have a think this New Year if any of these resolutions can apply to you.

Be kinder to your staff

It is not nice to see hard working, talented and often hugely experienced professionals breaking down in tears in front of me because someone at work is giving them a hard time. I never cease to be amazed by some of the stories I hear and whilst, of course, there are plenty of examples of great bosses out there, I am amazed by the amount of workers who list ‘not feeling appreciated’ as their main motivator for wanting a new job. Saying ‘thank you’ costs nothing and neither does acknowledging a job well done. These little gestures really do go a long way. Remember also, we all deserve a life outside of work, and that includes headspace from work-based stress and anxiety. Just because you may be able to cope with a 12 hour day doesn’t mean that your employees can (or should be able to), and it may be making them desperately unhappy. Work life balance really is essential in getting the best out of people. ‘Putting in the hours’ does not always equate to quality of work and increased productivity.

Consider flexible working

A significant proportion of my client base are work returners, who have taken a career break for family, health or personal reasons. For these people, some element of flexible working is often a necessity. But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop there. Due to new regulations brought in in 2014, the right to request flexible working now extends to all staff (full or part time) who meet the qualifying period of 26 weeks continuous service with that employer, not just those with caring responsibilities. The fact is, flexible working, as an issue, isn’t going to go away any time soon. And embracing it will most likely have a very positive impact on staff morale. Consider offering part-time or even job share opportunities. There is a huge amount of professional talent out there being wasted because the part time job market has such a huge supply/demand discrepancy. And, yes, I am aware it isn’t possible in every job but don’t fall into that bracket of companies who won’t consider it just because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. Consider also a more flexible approach to where people work. Advances in technology now makes effective home-based working a real possibility and helps to foster a working culture based on trust and mutual respect.

Recruit for potential

Career change is certainly more socially acceptable now than it was a generation ago but, in my humble opinion, is still considerably more challenging than it should be. The fact is that a huge amount of people fall into careers rather than select them due to careful consideration. Or they select them at an age when they are too young to really understand the reality of the working world and how best they may fit within it so initial career decisions just don’t always work out. I am lucky enough to work with a large number of career changers who, without fail, have put time, effort and great thought into identifying a work area that will really suit their needs only to struggle at the final hurdle - actually securing a work opportunity in this new field. Employers, of course, need to protect themselves. But so often recruitment decisions are based upon short term needs rather than longer term advantages. Just because someone has done a similar job before, it doesn’t make them the best recruit and the person most likely to bring value to an organisation. Career changers can bring new perspectives, renewed enthusiasm and a breath of fresh air. Give them a chance. Explore the value they have brought to their previous employers - irrespective of industry - and let this be a good indicator of the value they will bring to your organisation.

Over and out. Oh, and Happy New Year. I hope it is good to you all.