Is the future of work skills-driven?

  • July 08, 2022

Is the future of work moving away from a qualification-lead approach?

If one quality could be named ‘most desirable’ in the new, online work world, it would be this – adaptable. 

With the pandemic throwing up challenge after challenge, those who thrive in this new world won’t necessarily be those with the most qualifications, but rather those who can adapt to these new challenges the fastest. 

Qualifications don’t necessarily lead to adaptability; in fact, the opposite could be argued. Qualifications and the learning process necessary to achieve them often take a somewhat dogmatic approach to learning, which is perhaps necessarily the result of following instructions from a textbook. This isn’t always the case of course, the quality of one’s education depends almost entirely on the teachers. However, more and more, a qualification-lead approach is becoming seen as outdated. 

In addition to this, with the internet providing almost infinite learning resources either for free or for a comparatively minute fee, a university education isn’t necessarily the only, nor even the most efficient way of picking up new skills. 

Remote and part time learning, which don’t have to lead to commonly recognised qualifications, can greatly increase the skill set of any individual with internet access and the volition to further their knowledge. Employers are rapidly recognising this shift, with major employers such as Google, IBM and EY starting to think outside of the box and increasing their recruitment outreach to alternative talent pools, with the implicit realisation that the future is in a skills-driven workforce.

Another change in the work world, which has seen a steady shift over the past decades with a rapid increase in the past few years, is the move away from ‘company employees’. In the past, it was not uncommon for a worker to stay at a single firm for their whole life, right up to retirement. Now, this is practically unheard of. Most workers will have many jobs within a lifetime, sometimes simultaneously. 

The steady rise in freelance work across the board is becoming more and more attractive; although job security can be an issue, the benefits gained in flexibility and being your own boss are immense. Where it may have been incredibly difficult in the past to develop the skills and know-how to start off on your own, again with the proliferation of online resources, this is no longer a struggle at all. 

There are now 1.4 million freelancers across the sectors in the UK, and another added benefit of being a freelance worker is the following: as long as you can produce results and have a proven track record, clients will almost never ask you if you have a degree. 

This represents an incredible shift in attitude towards qualifications, making it the case that having the correct skill set is literally the only barrier to entry in many freelance job markets. With online job search tools such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour geared around the gig economy, it is becoming increasingly easy to make a successful career outside of the traditional framework of qualifications and employers.

Preparing for a skills-driven future job market

Listed below are three ways to make yourself a more adaptable and skills-diverse employee.

1. Constantly learn

Learning is no longer something to be done as a child and young adult – to survive and thrive in the current work climate, with its constant evolution, you as an employee must keep up with the times, constantly bettering your knowledge on your subject. 

This means gaining new experiences in diverse roles, going on training courses (whether in person or online) and keeping up to date on the literature and latest developments to your respective field.

2. Broaden your knowledge

Specialists are perhaps going to become a thing of the past, or at least in the traditional sense. 

More and more companies are looking for employees with a holistic understanding of their industry, and a mindset that no problem (within reason of course) is beyond their capabilities. This allows for a more productive and creative workforce, as interdepartmental collaboration starts to flourish, and problems arising from miscommunication become less common.

3. Think outside the box

Your current skill set may be far more diversely applicable than you realise. The skills you pick up from any job or experience, which may at first seem quite niche, can be quite transferable. 

An example of this is accountants; while at first it may seem that their skill set is perfect for only one thing – managing the accounts of a company – in fact, accountants are ideal candidates to manage any kind of financial analysis. That means they could be perfectly suited to trading or a position in a hedge fund; the point is, your horizons may already be far broader than you realise, take a step back and think on what you already know, and what it could make you suitable for.

The move towards a skills-driven workforce is already taking place, and the challenges thrown up by the pandemic are rapidly accelerating that shift. 

Debates at the World Economic Forum in 2016 found that it is highly likely large swathes of the labour force will cease to be employable if dramatic changes to the educational environment are not carried out. 

Online education represents one of these changes. Employees also believe this insight to be true – a 2016 survey found a massive 87% of workers believed it was critical that they continued to train throughout their life in order to keep up with workplace changes.

Employers, as well as employees, need to adapt to the times. With more and more workers going freelance, if employers wish to maintain a steady workforce and avoid the expense and complications of constantly rehiring, they need to widen their recruitment pools and provide similar or better benefits to those available for freelance workers. 

These shifts are already happening, but to maintain a competitive advantage, both workers and employers must remain ahead of the curve or risk being left behind in an outdated era.

Photo by David Siglin on Unsplash

How to ask for a pay rise

  • July 08, 2022

Is it time for you to get a pay rise?

One of the most sensitive issues to tackle in the workplace is the question of when it’s appropriate to ask for a pay rise. It’s a question of balance – making sure that you are rewarded for your hard work to an extent that you’re happy with, and not appearing ungrateful for the job that you have. 

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to ask for a pay rise; employers would see that your productivity is increasing, or that the quality of your work is surpassing that of when you were employed, and offer increased remuneration without further ado. The real world is more complex though; employers are often snowed under, they may not keep track of individual pay packages (especially in larger firms) and they may simply not be eager to actively spend more on wages.

Identifying whether it is an appropriate time to ask for a pay rise is part of what makes the process so nerve wracking. You may not have friends in the same field, and even if you do, money isn’t always a subject people are open to talking about, even close friends. One way of researching what an appropriate pay bracket is for your position is to look on Glassdoor and Totaljobs Salary Checker. 

These tools are by no means exhaustive resources, but can give a very good indication of what similar positions pay. Not only does this give a good idea of what you can ask, but it provides potential leverage and a fall-back option, should you need it.

Whilst it doesn’t constitute a pay rise in the traditional sense, for many workers it is also worth making sure that you are currently being paid minimum wage. The brackets change every April, and are dependent on your age, so it is easy for employers to make mistakes. If you have been paid under the minimum wage, notify your employer and it is their duty to back pay you the difference. HMRC can also be notified, but this should be as a last resort, having already entered into dialogue with your employer.

Unfortunately for workers, since the financial crisis in 2008, pay rises have seen a sharp decline. Much of the public sector has seen pay rises capped at 1%, and only 17% of UK workers have seen an annual pay increase of more than inflation which stands at 2.5%, meaning that in real terms only 17% of the population has seen a pay rise exceeding the rising cost of living.

While those figures may seem disheartening, and the process a little nerve wracking, you have nothing to lose by asking for a pay rise. The law states that your employment cannot be terminated for asking for a pay increase, and it is highly unlikely that an employer would wish to do so anyway. While there is little to lose, there is much to gain. There are numerous ways to substantially increase the likelihood of your request being accepted, methods which this article goes into more detail below.

10 ways to ask for a pay rise

1. In face meeting

The best way to broach the subject of a pay rise is face to face with your manager. That way, not only will you probably receive an immediate answer, but you can actively gauge their response and answer any concerns they may have. You’ll be able to negotiate in real time, answering their queries as they arise. It also places you on the front foot; you should have prepared all of your arguments and demands prior to the meeting.

On that note, it is important to write down what you plan on saying – not only will it help you remember, it will also allow you to compartmentalise and strategize your thoughts more effectively. It is unlikely that you’ll receive a pay rise immediately, numerous factors have to be taken into consideration, but it is certainly a good way to open up the dialogue. 

Whilst perhaps the scariest way of approaching the subject (an email being the least scary perhaps) you’ll know where you stand straight away, eliminating the nerve wracking wait for a response. As a bonus, your boss will probably appreciate the straightforward nature of your request, and thus may be more likely to accept.

2. Time it right

Some times are more appropriate than others to ask for a pay rise. One particularly apposite time for requesting higher pay is after an annual performance review. Obviously, the review has to have been a positive one; negative performance will seldom be rewarded. 

However, if your performance has been praised, this is a very good time to request a pay rise. If you are queried on why you believe you deserve the pay rise, you can cite the performance review, showing the official record of your stellar performance. 

In addition to the time of year, the day of the week that you make your request may make a difference. A study by the recruitment firm Office Angels found that managers were most receptive to requests concerning money matters which were made on a Wednesday. 

The study, in which 1500 bosses were interviewed, found that a significant 78% stated that Wednesday was the best (most receptive) day to ask about financial matters – the same study found that 64% thought a Monday afternoon was the best time to ask about holidays. 

There are countless psychological studies which have been carried out on ways to increase the probability of a positive outcome in business discussions. It is certainly worth researching if there is data that can help you meet your demands, such as the study cited above.

3. Know your manager

Statistics and data derived from studies are both incredibly useful, however they will never be able to inform you on the nuances of your exact situation. While it may be best to ask 78% of bosses for a pay rise on a Wednesday, your boss could very well be in the 22% - you might know that they regularly get a late night on Tuesdays for example, which could leave them tired and irritable for your big meeting. 

While it may be good to catch some managers unawares, it is more probable that surprising your manager with a pay rise meeting out of the blue will result in a knee jerk negative reaction, whereas ample warning (asking to have a meeting in, say, a week, about a potential pay rise) could give them time to reflect and appraise your performance. 

Ultimately, you’ll know who you work with infinitely better than any online guide. The information you can glean from articles is absolutely priceless, but needs to be picked and used with reference to your exact situation. As with everything, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to achieving a pay rise, however the information in articles like these will help you develop your own personalised approach.

4. Plan what you’ll say and how you’ll say it

Pursuant to the advice on preparation, there are ways you can structure your argument, and elements that are beneficial to include to get the result you want. Enter the meeting with confidence and specificity – you want to illustrate that you’ve done your research and that you know how much you’re worth. It isn’t necessarily a bad idea high ball a little (still staying within your appropriate pay band of course) so that you can be knocked down and still be happy, but be realistic – your boss will be more impressed at you knowing the market and your worth than you exaggerating your expectations.

While you need to display confidence, don’t be arrogant – show your gratitude and enthusiasm for staying with the company. Asking for a raise can be a way of showing how you plan to add to the company in the long run, a chance to show commitment. Make the point that as you help your department achieve growth, that growth should be reciprocated. 

If you’re stumped on what to say, there are scripts available online – it’s perhaps not the best idea to use one verbatim, but they can offer a very good structure on which you can base your own.

5. Be open to alternatives

If you’re earning ‘enough’ to live on and your boss can’t offer you money, they may be willing to offer other alternative incentives. While in some situations – having a dependant to look after for example – a pay rise may be necessary for you to afford your lifestyle, other options such as company funded training or other work-related benefits. 

These could include a company vehicle, health benefits such as gym membership or a comprehensive health insurance plan, increased work-life balance perks such as increased holiday or work from home options, the list goes on.

The important thing to note is that money isn’t the only thing your job can offer you. Training, for example, can further your career far more significantly in the long run than even a 10% pay increase, and will open the doors to further pay rises and promotions. 

Any qualifications you earn may very well increase your appropriate pay bracket and increase your employability to other firms, and if you can get your work to fund that training, it’s a win-win situation.

6. Be realistic

Before you properly entertain the idea of asking for a pay rise, self-evaluate. Are you indispensable to the company? Are you performing better than your colleagues? How well do you manage your responsibilities? Is the company you work for doing well, or in a time of financial turmoil? All of these are important questions you should be asking yourself, and the first three have answers which are in your control. You’re dispensable? Make yourself indispensable; take on additional roles, additional responsibilities, all while working to a standard above that of your colleagues.

Pay rises are to be expected, of course, in line with inflation. To receive no pay rise is in real terms to slowly be paid less and less, as the cost-of-living steadily increases. But to receive a significant pay rise, you need to have earned it – you shouldn’t consider a pay increase to be an inalienable right. By asking yourself these questions, you can make yourself worthy of a pay rise, thus making it harder for your employer to say no. 

If you’re contributing more to the company, it’s likely they’ll be more inclined to increase your pay.

7. Lay out your goals

The conversation, no matter whether you achieve a pay rise or not, can be a productive one. A conversation about a pay rise is a conversation about your future at the company, which should be determined by both yourself and by your boss. Make sure you clearly lay out what you want to achieve, and ask your boss where she wants you to be in a years’ time. 

Ask them for feedback on things that you’re doing well and things that you can improve on – based on that feedback, you’ll be able to ask for a pay rise far more confidently next time around having met your new goals.

Keeping track of your goals and targets is also excellent long-term preparation for the conversation. People like to see progress in numbers, data is far easier to pin down than simply saying you’ve ‘taken on more work this quarter’. 

In the back of your mind, you should always be tracking your career development, making sure it doesn’t become stagnant. If you find that you are plateauing, then perhaps a training course is a better thing to ask for than a pay rise; this will prep you for a salary increase at a later date. 

8. Share your successes

An approach that a lot of people will take is recording their successes and saving them up, then dumping them on their boss when they ask for a pay rise. This approach is far less effective than the alternative – sharing every significant success you have as they happen, with your colleagues and bosses. 

This will change their mentality towards you, prepping your superiors psychologically for rewarding you with a pay rise when you finally ask for it. This has to be done with care – don’t become the office boaster, this will not endear you with anyone. Rather, proactively communicate your little and big wins as they happen.

Success can take many forms – did you gain a new customer? Save an old but valuable one? Did you increase revenue? Increase profits through cutting costs? These are just a few examples of many; realise when you’ve done something well, no matter how big, and share it. Don’t wait for someone to ask you what you’ve done well, legitimise your self-worth proactively as you go along. 

9. Go for a promotion

Given the current economic climate, with public and private sectors having essentially frozen real term pay rises, an effective way to achieve a pay rise is to seek a promotion. This will require even more evidence of success than a pay rise. You need to demonstrate that you are taking on the types of tasks and a similar, or even greater workload than the role you’re aiming for. 

You must also demonstrate that in stretching yourself that far, your quality of work is not compromised. Quite the reverse should be true – demonstrate that your projects are run smoothly and efficiently, achieving greater results than your colleagues while using less resources. 

Collect and share positive feedback from customers, colleagues and superiors to demonstrate this, again toeing the fine line between boasting and illustrating your true worth to the company. Ultimately, if a role needs filling and you are able to step up to the task, it is far simpler for your boss to promote you than it is for them to hire an outsider. 

You can get on with the job at hand with minimal training, already being an active member at the company. Tell your employer this – make them realise how you can make their recruitment process simpler.

10. Deserve not need

Often, employees will approach their superiors and attempt to legitimise a pay rise by saying that they need one. Saying that your cost of living is increasing – that you have a new pet, want a new car, or really need to eat out more – is not a good way of arguing for a raise. Frankly, from your boss’s point of view, your expenditure is your problem, not your employers. At best it can be ineffective, worst it can sound needy and immature.

Instead, show why you deserve a pay rise. Using all of the tips listed above – celebrating your achievements, meeting your goals, taking on an increased workload – lay out an argument that shows why you have earned your pay rise, an argument that shows you are worth more to the company than you are currently being paid. This line of reasoning is far more likely to be effective than simply saying you want more money. We all want more money, however only some of us have earned it. Show your boss why, and they’ll have to accede. 

How often should I expect a salary increase?

Most jobs (90%, according to a study by Mercer) provide pay increases annually, often in January to coincide with the start of the financial year; 6 months is also not an uncommon increment, especially for companies aiming to achieve high employee retention rates in competitive markets. This can give another indication as to when may be an appropriate time to ask for a pay rise; if you’ve been with your employer for a year, it could be an appropriate time to broach the subject.

Pay rise inequality sadly exists within the gender pay gap as well. Women who are equally as qualified as their male counterparts, carrying out the same role, are paid between 10-20% less. 

With regards to asking for a salary increase, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that while women ask for one just as often as men do, their request is accepted 15% of the time, while men have their requests accepted 20% of the time. 

Estimates for how long it will take for the gender pay gap to close vary; the World Economic Forum in 2018 estimated 202 years, however the Coronavirus pandemic may very well have affected this timeline.

With start-ups achieving rapid rates of growth, it may be appropriate to ask for a raise sooner, or later; the timelines are far more fluid than with established companies. 

Many start-ups will offer comparatively meagre pay packages compared to more established companies, but rather base their attraction to candidates on the opportunity for rapid growth. This can be exciting, and if you end up in the right start-up, may lead to reaping incredibly high rewards. 

Make sure that your contract is favourable, and if you have a lot of faith in the future of the company, try to get an options package; this may result in a lower initial pay, but for a company that could someday be worth hundreds of times more than its value at the time you start working there, it’ll be worth it.

The public sector, as a result of austerity, has seen a long period of real-terms pay cuts. For the first time in years however, 2020 saw 900,000 public sector workers receive above inflation pay rises; schoolteachers saw the largest at 3.1%, with doctors and dentists receiving a raise of 2.8%. 

This was said by HM treasury to be in response to the ‘enormous effort’ made by public sector workers in managing the pandemic. 

The private sector was hit hard by the pandemic; it saw the lowest rate of pay increases since 2010, a staggeringly low 1%, less than half of 2019s 2.5% average. Now is generally not a good time to ask for a pay rise; a lot of firms are being propped up by the furlough scheme, which has been extended to September 2021 to try to avoid a flood of redundancies. 

Unfortunately, it is likely that the event has been delayed rather than avoided, but only time will see how industries recover post lockdown. 

Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

Qualifications or experience - What's more important?

  • July 08, 2022

So… Is one more important than the other?

The debate over which is more important, qualifications or experience, is an old one, which has plagued both job seekers and recruiters for decades. The answer has changed over time, and is never as clear cut as some would like it to be. 

This article investigates the importance of each, and tries to tackle the all-important question of what you should be focusing on. 

Why some deem qualifications to be more important

Whilst experience can give you a seemingly thorough understanding of whichever field you work in, learning through osmosis has its downsides as well. As you’re being paid to produce results, you seldom have time to reflect. 

The way you’ll come to do things is often the first way that has produced positive results; you simply don’t always have the time or resources to try things in different ways, which could fail, when you’re on company time. Studying a subject takes this problem out of the equation. 

You have resources at your disposal – most importantly, time. This allows you to study the theoretical aspects of your field, to gain a more introspective understanding than you might otherwise. This theoretical knowledge can help develop your field, allowing you to move beyond what ‘works’ to something that works better.

Why some deem experience to be more important

While education is undeniably important, an individual can have a degree in a subject but have absolutely no idea of the practicalities it entails. 

The workplace brings a thousand other dimensions which cannot be included in textbooks, from the intricacies of human interaction to working well in a team, and with other departments. Learning on the job can produce results incredibly rapidly; the pressure is on, and as you’re an employee, failure carries far more significant consequences than during formal education. 

It is often these less tangible elements of the workplace that determine productivity and success – an individual who is personable, and knows how to work with people, with solid knowledge of the common trip ups that arise in the work which aren’t taught in the classroom, will often outperform a university graduate who has no knowledge of any of these things.

Which is more important now?

It seems that at the moment, employers want both. In a survey carried out by Universum, a recruitment specialist, it found that 58% of leading employers preferred graduates with work experience to those with a high grade or a leading university on their CV. 

Ernst & Young have gone as far as removing degree classification from their criteria completely, which is perhaps a tell-tale sign of broader, industry wide trends towards a focus on experience. 

While this shows that experience is a significant factor for recruiters, it does show they value degrees as well. The ideal candidate will thus be both university educated, and with a decent level of experience. This is no mean feat to achieve!

Will I need a degree to apply for entry level jobs?

In a competitive job market, where employers have hundreds or even thousands of applications for a single position, it becomes necessary for recruiters to make more and more stringent requirements to filter out all but the best, most suitable applicants. 

As the ideal candidate, regardless of personal attributes, is statistically most likely to be the combination of both a graduate and having solid work experience, the easiest way to attract the ideal candidate is to narrow the application criteria to those two variables. It thus becomes harder and harder to get a job with no qualifications or experience.

Some fields are effectively impossible to enter without high-level qualifications and experience. These include the legal profession, where a training contract can be considered paid experience, with paid or unpaid internships often desired as prerequisites, many positions in international organisations (IOs) such as the UN, many management consultancy positions, the list goes on. Essentially, these jobs entail working with industries to sort out internal errors – whether legal, financial, or both. 

To do these jobs well, knowledge of the industry is indispensable, as well as a deep theoretical knowledge of legal parlance, regulatory hurdles, and other less intuitive elements of industry. 

Entry level jobs are of course available in many fields for those without degrees. However, not having a degree will slow down your ascension through the ranks, and you’re more likely to reach a glass ceiling. According to the ONS, in 2016 graduates on average earned £9,500 more per year than non-graduates. So, while it’s possible to get started without a degree, continual progression may be halted, or at least slowed, without one.

Making sure you have both aspects covered

One of the most significant barriers to higher education – both perceived and real – is the cost. While loans are readily available, maintenance loans alone aren’t enough for some to live on, especially if you have dependents, and the prospect of leaving university with significant debts (on average £40,000) is daunting to many. There are however alternative methods of achieving qualifications, which can both be cheaper and facilitate working full or part time on the side. 

One such option is open universities. These educational institutions are often far more flexible than traditional universities. They often have more lenient entry requirements, can be taken part time, are cheaper than standard university courses, and you can pick and choose your modules. 

You don’t have to do a full undergraduate course – you can do as many modules and get as many credits as you like, allowing you to hone your learning to the areas you believe are most important to your personal and professional development.

One of the best ways to gain experience is through internships. This is often done while at university, during the summer break for example. 

One of the big bonuses of internships is that if you impress the place you’re working at, you may very well be given an offer of employment for after you graduate, taking a lot of the stress out of the job search process. Even if you don’t get an employment offer, it will still look great on your CV!

Photo by Albert Vincent Wu on Unsplash

How the pandemic has affected the future of work

  • July 08, 2022

The question most people are asking at the moment, is when will we go back to work? The anticipation of a return to normality, in the workplace especially, is immense. However, a return to a pre-pandemic state of affairs is highly unlikely. 

The digitalisation of society has seen a rapid acceleration, indeed almost a completion, during the past year, with the most significant consequences seen on the high street. Most notably perhaps was the collapse of Arcadia Group, which went into administration in November 2020, putting 13,000 jobs across 444 UK stores at risk.

The idea that a physical workplace is both irreplaceable and an ideal environment for productivity has been forcibly questioned. From the first lockdown, companies which can operate using remote working have been forced to do so, and the results have been surprising, for some at least. A McKinsey study found that productivity did not fall – 28% felt that they were as productive, with a significant 41% believing they were more productive than when working in the office.

This has essentially thrown the status quo of the workplace on its head; while the physical workplace has seen centuries of evolution, the forced (and thus rapid) adaption of a widespread online work approach is a novel concept, which will change significantly during the coming months and years. Below, we go into five ways that the pandemic has changed the way employees and employers will approach the future of work.

5 ways the pandemic has completely changed the future of work

  1. Work from home

The biggest change to the work environment – the overarching change which has influences on every aspect of work culture – is the adaption of work from home policies. Not only can this be beneficial to employees, who can save time and money that would have been spent on the commute, it will end up saving employers’ vast sums on travel benefits, office space, and all the costs surrounding the maintenance of a physical location. 

Employers will very likely keep some physical presence, with an option to work in an office, but it will be scaled back dramatically.

  1. HR and mental health

An area which will need to see dramatic reform is HR. With employees working remotely, it is far harder to keep track of their physical and mental health. HR departments will have to rapidly evolve to keep track of these issues, and work with therapists and experts in the field to make sure that crises don’t unfold without them noticing. As social creatures, humans crave interaction. 

The effects of a life lived completely online are yet to be seen, however there will doubtless be unexpected impacts that we all have to deal with.

  1. Work from anywhere

An amazing benefit of working remotely, for both employees and employers, is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be from home. This opens up the option for employees to work and travel simultaneously, from rented houses or hotels in nice destinations, helping to create a more positive work-life balance and increasing productivity. For employees, this opens up the work pool.

 Recruiters can search globally (or at least in appropriate time zones) for potential candidates, rather than in a 50-mile radius. This opens up a vast talent pool, potentially revolutionising the way workers are sought out.

  1. Adapted work culture

A significant dilemma among employers is how to develop a healthy work culture online. With physical locations, it is far easier to cultivate this; through events and just the day-to-day occurrences of office life, camaraderie and friendships flourish, creating a sense of collective vision and the idea that you’re all working towards the same goal. 

This ‘natural’ sense of culture will have to be reassessed as digitisation progresses, and employers will have to make more of an effort. Already some workplaces are hosting online quizzes and the like – while a step in the right direction, far more is necessary to help people thrive. How this will happen, only time will tell.

  1. Skills reappraisal

The skills necessary to thrive in the online world are likely to change. With a turn to the digital world, it is likely that employers will try to pass off as many roles to AI as possible. Another McKinsey study found that around 50% of current global jobs could be automated, meaning up to 800 million workers could face digital replacement by 2030. 

If the only purpose of a human worker is to provide a face and human element to the role, digitisation and remote working remove that purpose. Workers therefore have to rapidly upskill, and ensure that their role is irreplaceable.

What does the future of work look like for the majority of employees?

The key takeaway here is that the future of the workplace potentially comes with many benefits for employees, as well as some dangers. 

With remote and more flexible work, a work-life balance will become far easier to achieve, for example allowing parents to work when it may have been impossible or at least highly impractical before. Companies such as Google, HSBC and Microsoft have all stated the intention to maintain a more adaptable and open approach to flexible working, and it is almost always the case that these titans of the industry lead the way for the rest of the market. 

However, there are also threats. Digitisation and computing/AI’s rapid evolution also means that the prospect of employees being replaced by machines becomes a genuine possibility in many cases. In addition to this, with remote working the wellbeing of employees will be harder to monitor, and companies will have to work hard with their HR departments to ensure that workers are taken care of. 

Both workers and employers will have to rapidly evolve in order to weather the storm. Failure to adapt will result in being left in a bygone era, steadily surpassed by those who have caught up with the times.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash


How employee benefits will change post flexible working

  • January 06, 2022

The pandemic has dramatically changed the workplace landscape, including the approach taken to benefits. Most significantly, as a result of covid, working from home has become the norm. This represents a dramatic shift, as in 2018, 46% of the workforce weren’t offered remote working as an option at all. This major shift in the workplace means that employees need to have their support and benefits system entirely revolutionised. 

If employers don’t offer these changes, they may possibly lose large chunks of their workforce; a survey early in 2021 found that 55% of employees considered their loyalty to their company dependent on the support offered after the pandemic has ended. 

When looking for new work, and indeed while at your current job, it will become imperative to make sure that you’re offered an up-to-date benefits package. 

These benefits won’t just make working life easier. In some cases, it will become increasingly necessary for your wellbeing and productivity that they’re available. 

With companies as big as HSBC moving to permanent remote working options, the rest of the market is highly likely to follow suit. While increased productivity and workforce contentment remains a possibility in these big future shifts, just how productive and effective they are will depend on the benefits provided by employers.

5 changes to the current benefits you need to be aware of

Below are 5 major changes which employees should be aware of. Take note, however, that all employers will be taking different approaches. Some will be eager to get the workforce back together, in the physical workplace, where others will be keen to cut back on office expenditures. 

We will have to wait and see which employers pick which approach, but the changes listed below are to be expected (or have already occurred) in most workplaces.

1. Mental Health & Wellbeing Outreach

Given the unprecedented struggles faced by all during the pandemic, all firms will have had to increase their wellbeing outreach. The fact that most employees are working from home has also altered the way mental health has been supported. It complicates reaching out, and makes it harder to learn how employees are truly coping, and will mean that HR departments have to re-evaluate how best to maintain a healthy workforce. 

Not only is wellness a concern for employees and an ethical concern for employers, a workforce which is incapacitated by mental and physical ill health will not be productive.

2. Remote Working

While remote working was once seen as a significant perk, it is now coming to be seen as the norm, and this will only increase. This switch in attitude means that employers will have to offer additional enticing benefits to employees, whether increased holidays, a wellbeing budget or, as is increasingly common, a fund which goes towards creating a fully functional home office. 

After all, as an employee, one should not be expected to pay entirely for one’s workplace – this is a different question when freelancing of course.

3. Training budget

As the workplace evolves, employees must evolve with it. It is in both the interest of employers and employees that regular training takes place. 

This training is already occurring at most companies; while most in the modern age are computer literate, moving entirely online has brought new challenges with it – both technical and social. IT and HR departments will need to keep the workforce up to date with the latest updates, keeping their eye on the ball at all times. 

Whether in-house training or stipends offered to seek training from external providers, this will certainly remain a pertinent issue.

4. Flexibility

The ideal scenario for many is the option to either work from option or work from the office, as and when it suits the worker. 

Work based tasks can easily be done from home, and can be done around an employee’s other life commitments; if they need to be with the kids in the afternoon, work can be done while the children are at school and after they’ve gone to bed. However, if they feel cooped up or just want to work with colleagues in a more social setting, the office will be available. 

A flexible employer who takes an easy approach to how and when tasks are done (as long as they are done) will become increasingly sought out by large segments of the workforce.

5. Consider your needs

Before looking for a new job, or asking your boss about benefits available, consider what you personally need to be both happy and productive. 

You have children? Perhaps you’d appreciate a job that paid towards childcare costs, or had a crèche at the office. You’ve had health complications? Look for a position with an excellent comprehensive health insurance option. Each job offers unique benefits, it’s simply a question of finding a company whose offerings most closely match your personal needs. 

Assessing your options in the event changes occur

If you’ve enjoyed the remote working opportunities offered by the pandemic, the good news is that they’re likely to be here to stay. Many employers, including Microsoft and Google, are stating they intend to offer a remote-first approach to work even after the pandemic has ended, making changes to flexible working a more permanent affair. 

If flexible working is preferable and it seems that your employer is holding back on making such changes permanent, it may be worth making a potential application list of companies with a work ethic that more closely matches your personal preferences. 

As the job market changes, companies will have to adapt their offerings quickly in order to attract excellent talent and then retain those employees. 

It’ll likely be the case that those with the most attractive benefits will be those with the best staff, in turn raising revenue and enabling better pay and options packages – a win-win cycle of company evolution.  As for employees, the options are becoming more and more readily available, they simply have to be sought out.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash