The workplace is changing around us all the time. Sometimes for the better; sometimes, it can seem, for the worse.
Changes can be dramatic or gradual, often a reflection of the larger shifts we are seeing within society at a macro-level: changes of family structure; changes in the economy; changes around what success means to people.
The challenge people face is in understanding and navigating changes in the workplace and finding their place within the new order, particularly if they have held a very secure and unchanging position previously.
As leaders and educators in the field of recruitment, it is important that Moir Group is constantly at the forefront of change in the workplace, understanding how it affects people and advocating for new ways of working that help people to achieve their goals and get ahead.
Two key emerging trends are the need to stand out from the crowd and the increasing popularity of flexible work arrangements. Read more about these below.
Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd
Over time, we are seeing businesses increasingly seeking out a diverse mix of employees who bring a wide range of complementary skills, both soft and technical, to the table.
Having a range of different experiences, personalities and perspectives creates a well-rounded team that is capable of performing across a diverse range of areas.
The notion that possessing the right technical skills alone is enough to get you into a top spot is long-gone. Now times have changed, it’s essential to ensure that you present yourself as a candidate who offers something different.
A key step to help you stand out when going for jobs is to be self-reflective and to recognise the unique attributes that make you who you are and how they would add value in a role. Remember to consider soft skills you have developed over time. These might be transferable skills you have developed through your personal life, interests outside of work or previous career avenues. Really consider what makes you excellent. It is often the strengths that set you apart that employers really notice and appreciate.
Asking for feedback from others is another great way to understand your singular qualities from an outside perspective, both the things that make you excellent and also the things you can work on. If you are open to feedback from others it can really help you hone in on the traits that differentiate you from other candidates.
For organisations, it is vital to consider how a diverse team can work well and harmoniously together and embrace their differences. Increasingly, soft skills such as teamwork and conflict resolution are becoming increasingly important components for a well-rounded candidate.
Organisations see personal traits such as authenticity, openness and trust as being great building blocks to achieving genuine rapport and connection, especially when working with a range of different types of people.
Tips for clarifying what makes you stand-out:
- Go over your strengths and what your unique skill set can bring to the role and the organisation.
- Have clarity of thought before you communicate via your resume and at the interview. This will give you confidence.
- Have examples of your achievements and successes ready to go. Think these through and you will see you have achieved a lot over your career.
- Writing things down can help you to really own and understand the unique skills that make you excellent.
The benefits of normalising flexible working arrangements
‘Work/life balance’: The term has become a bit hackneyed. People, the world over, pay lip-service to the idea of maintaining a healthy equilibrium between their home and work life. Whilst it’s questionable how many people are truly achieving this, we are seeing a gradual movement towards flexible working arrangements being normalised in the workplace. We believe that in the next 5-10 years it will be normal for most organisations to have flexible working arrangements.
Job-sharing is one of the more common examples of flexible working arrangements. This is where two people share the same role, making up the full-time equivalent. However, flexibility can mean anything from working one less day a week; having an earlier finish time or adjustable hours across the week.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 30% of Australians are currently employed on a part time basis – a figure which has steadily grown since the 1970s. This gives us the third highest proportion of part time workers in the world, ranked only behind Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Job share arrangements are also on the rise with over 40% of Australian employers now indicating that they offer this as an option for employees, according to the ABS.
At Moir Group, we are fierce advocates for flexible working arrangements. It’s something we practice as well as preach, with several of our own employees working in highly effective job-share arrangements.
We are now challenging other businesses to change their thinking about flexibility for their staff. As part of this process, it’s key for us to normalise the concept of flexible working arrangements for our clients and educate them about the benefits for their business. We do this simply through practices such as promoting flexible work candidates exactly the same as we would with full-time candidates. Ultimately, we believe it comes down to the abilities of the candidates, not their circumstances.
And it’s not just employees who benefit. Organisations that practice flexible working arrangements see higher levels of productivity in their employees as they are happier in their role and feel more valued. If more businesses start to offer flexible work arrangements, they will see that it impacts the bottom line.
Currently, job sharing and other flexible work arrangements are seen as the domain of mothers returning to work and wanting to still look after their children some of the time. However, we believe that these types of arrangements can and should be open to everyone.
“We will know the corporate world has truly made a shift to flexible work arrangements when we start to see equal numbers of men and women taking up part-time arrangements.
It is hard for both men and women to work full time, high powered, senior roles without a supportive partner. If the corporate world is not open to men playing the role of flexible worker who helps with family commitments, allowing their partner to work full time, it will make it hard for significant diversity at senior, corporate levels.” – Karen Ryan, Director, Interim Executive Search, Moir Group.
ABS figures highlight this gap. Currently only 5% of Australian men who take parental leave apply as the primary care giver. Male parental leave is highest amongst financial and insurance services industries, whilst the lowest level of uptake is in agriculture and fishing.
Ultimately, from an individual’s point of view it’s about people defining their goals and values to work out exactly what they need for a balanced life. It will vary for everyone but flexible working arrangements can be a factor for many reasons including study, family-time and even hobbies.
“I met one candidate who was an Olympic kite surfer who needed one day a week for training. He just asked and they agreed. They probably saved money as he still needed to get the work done and just managed his time better.”- Fiona Marr, Senior Consultant, Moir Group.
If you are interested in exploring flexible working arrangements, really consider your situation and what flexibility means to you. Whilst organisations are gradually understanding the benefits of flexible working practices, there is still a way to go. It will require effort from everyone, both organisations and individuals, to ‘chip away’ at old practices and policy and move towards flexible working practices that have the potential to benefit everyone.
Effective ways to negotiate flexibility
- Come to the table with a solution, not a problem. Think about how you could make it work for your organisation.
- Communicate. For instance, if you want to leave early a few days a week or come in late, make it clear so that you meet stakeholders’ expectations.
- If you want to work part-time, you may consider negotiating a job-share arrangement to ensure your role is seamless for your stakeholders. This also means that you can relax on your days off and be focused on your work days.
- Find a sponsor in the business who knows the contribution you make to the business and ask them to support you in your flexibility request.
For more great tips on how to take control of your career, check out our Learning & Events portal.