Article | July 20, 2020
The HR function has evolved over recent decades; its evolution reflects changes in business operations and shifts in the dynamics between employers and employees. Today, due to COVID-19, the role of HR has undergone its most dramatic reinvention yet – but for the better. HR personnel have, for a long time, been perceived as those who deal with the “soft and fluffy” aspects of business: people’s problems, emotions, needs, ideas, etc. They don’t deal with hard numbers and fundamental business operations. Right? Wrong.
Article | July 20, 2020
Your HR team can get great results with on a budget using SEO, and this is because it is a cost-effective strategy as far as advertising is concerned. Firstly, SEO targets the company’s adverts to people actually seeking jobs and searching through Google as well as other search engines. Secondly, it betters the company’s brand as well as its image.
Article | July 20, 2020
The concept of remote work has been an alluring one in modern workspaces. A quick search on Google Trends shows that terms like remote work, work from home, and telecommute have steadily gained more interest from early 2000s and peaked during the height of the pandemic in March 2020.
The rising popularity of remote work has made employees take note too. As working from office became impossible in early 2020, over 90% of global businesses moved base and switched to remote mode. But is it only a solution for the pandemic or are there other benefits of working from home that you need to consider even after the pandemic has left the society? Before that is explored, take a look at where it started.
A History of Remote Work
Believe it or not, remote work is the default state in which humans worked before the industrial revolution. Only few people like ministers, clergymen, and royals would go to a separate place of work. Others like the potters, blacksmiths, jewellers, and cobblers worked outside their houses all day and knew the benefits of WFH.
As the industrial revolution took place, factories and industries were set up. And people started ‘going to work’. This was a big shift from the traditional money-making practices. As modern offices started showing up in the ‘60s, people became more acquainted to the ‘offices’ as we know them today. But still, the biggest game-changer was the invention of internet.
As technology developed with the help of internet, services like WiFi became widely available and allowed people to work from anywhere with the new found connectivity. The preference for remote work grew slowly and steadily as people started seeing the benefits of WFH, but remote work was catapulted into fast drive as the pandemic hit the world this year in 2020.
Benefits of WFH for Employees
Working from home is one of the most appreciated perks at a job as per a survey conducted by Fractl. There’s no doubt that employees covet the idea of remote work but it is not just a matter of convenience. According to a recent study by Stanford, there are also various benefits of working from home for the employees.
Higher Job Satisfaction
The best thing about working from home is that remote work offers a lot of flexibility to your employees, which is impossible to achieve when working from office. Employees are responsible for their own productivity, they aren’t worried about their superiors watching over their shoulders, and most importantly, they still have time to have a life outside of work. All of this adds up and results in higher job satisfaction among employees. A satisfied workforce is one of the strongest benefits of WFH.
Commuting takes a big chunk out of people’s expenses. Even if your employees use public transport, working from home will save them a significant amount of money. Among other benefits of WFH, as there is no need to step out every day, expenses on food, clothing, cosmetics, etc. will also reduce significantly. Fewer expenses mean more disposable income for your employees, and who doesn’t want that?
Better Work-life Balance
Working from a place of convenience allows you to take care of a lot of small things that you wouldn’t be able to do in an office. For example, taking care of a child while working, preparing a healthy meal, getting in a quick workout in the break time or even just closing your eyes and enjoying music for five minutes are all great benefits of WFH. The WFH experience offers a good worklife balance than otherwise.
As employees save a ton of time on commute, meetings, and even obligatory niceties, all the time that they put into work is now productive. According to a Flexjobs survey, 65% of the respondents mentioned that they’re more productive in a remote environment over an office one and see it as one of the primary benefits of working from home. Moreover, time dedicated to work, is solely utilized for work as employees feel more responsible for their performance when working from home.
Lower Stress Levels
Many studies have found that working from home can impact stress levels positively and reduce them. Experts believe that the reason for this may be associated with working in a familiar and comfortable environment. Benefits of WFH like lower stress levels affect efficiency and creativity at work. A laid-back employee will be able to offer a lot more than a stressed one.
Benefits of a WFH Policy for Employers
So yes, a WFH policy is great for the employees and is widely preferred. But what’s in it for you? With the exception of government mandated remote working, why should you offer WFH? This employer’s guide may help explain the details.
The truth is that there are just as many, if not more, benefits of working from home for the employers. Remote work, even if partial, can give you a big edge when it comes to productivity, competition, as well as employee retention. So what are these benefits of WFH?
Space Optimization and Cost-savings
As many companies have noticed, expenses have gone down significantly during the pandemic. The cost of office spaces is one of the obvious ones. But there are utilities, snacks, stationery, toiletries, cleaning supplies and a lot more that you save on when you offer a WFH policy. IBM alone has reportedly saved over $100 million in snacks since they started their WFH policy.
This is not the only benefit of WFH, partial WFH can help you optimize your office spaces and let you use techniques like hot desking that’ll help you reduce costs as well as let you use office space efficiently.
With all these feel-good effects and several other benefits of WFH, it is no wonder that employees stay longer with organizations that offer remote working opportunities, even partly. According to Global Analytics Workforce, over 72% of employers stated in a survey that remote working opportunities greatly impact employee retention. And it is no secret that the longer an employee stays with a company; the more loyal they are to it.
One of the biggest benefits of a WFH policy is that you get to pick your team from across the world. There are no location specific restrictions and you can hire the best members for your team without having to compromise too much on your budget.
Progressively more companies are now open to hire for completely remote positions from across the world as they see this as an opportunity to improve the quality and diversity of their teams.
There are several surveys and studies, including institutions like Harvard, which have found that remote work improves productivity in employees. There can be several reasons for the improved productivity such as fewer distractions, little or no commute, and comfortable environment. But whatever may be the reason, if you want to switch the gears on your operations, you may want to consider the benefits of WFH on productivity.
Absenteeism is a big problem when it comes to working in a team, especially if the project requires multiple collaborations. A large amount of absenteeism is tied up to logistical or minor issues such as vehicular breakdown, sudden change in childcare routine, or a minor sickness.
As all of this can be easily averted when working from home, employees prefer not to take leaves for minor issues. When working remotely, there are fewer logistical errors, household responsibilities can be tended to simultaneously, and minor illnesses don’t bother them too much in a comfortable environment. This leads to a more planned workday, and higher availability of employees which all adds up to the several benefits of WFH.
Longer Working Hours
At this point, it might seem like a stretch that there are so many benefits of WFH. But studies have shown that when employees work from home, they put in extra hours. It could be the result of KPIs switching from punctuality to results. But whatever the reason, employees are willing to put in more effort and longer days when given the chance to work remotely.
Several companies like Twitter and IBM have made headlines with their lenient WFH policies. IBM has been offering remote working opportunities for years now, and Twitter recently announced that it will allow its employees to work from home as long as they want even after the pandemic has subsided.
Just a minor change in the policy has earned Twitter a ton of goodwill, and no doubt the preference of potential employees. That’s how powerful remote work can be as a tool. A good WFH policy can bring you good PR as well as great candidates for future positions.
Better for the Planet
Business operations aren’t just costly, they are also a big source of carbon emissions. From the daily commute of all your employees, to the electricity consumed and toilet paper used, your office has a deep impact on the planet. In fact, the highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
When you switch to a remote mode, you lower the emissions for your organization by a considerable amount. It may be a small percentage globally, but every drop in the bucket counts and is an added benefit of WFH that you can use by adding this to your branding.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the pros and cons of working from home?
No hiring restrictions
Feelings of disconnect
Very little contact with co-workers
Why is work from home good?
There are several benefits of working from home including a better work-life balance, improved performance, lower stress levels, and higher efficiency.
How does working from home benefit a company?
Organizations see a big improvement in employee relations as employees are happier, more satisfied, and more efficient when working from home. Another benefit of working from home for the company is the reduced costs.
Article | July 20, 2020
We live in a world where equality, in numerous forms, continues to reside at the forefront of many people’s minds. From gender to race and everything in between, things have certainly improved, but there is still a very long way to go.
Today, there are a mere six female CEOs in the UK FTSE 100, with the average male CEO earning 17% more than the average female CEO. Gender equality has been in the spotlight far longer than other protected characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age and it continues to remain prominent.
And here, CEO and founder of AssessFirst, the innovative artificial intelligence recruitment firm, David Bernard, asks why, if we are losing the battle for gender equality in the FTSE 100, we should expect to see diversity, equity and inclusion successes across a much wider cross section of the business community.
A race to equality and diversity
The business case for gender, cultural and ethnic diversity is strong, and is only getting stronger.
Since 2015, McKinsey has conducted extensive research and produced compelling reports that demonstrate ironically, whilst the business case for diversity is robust, international progress is weak.
The latest reports show that those pushing ahead with gender diversity are 25% more likely to financially outperform companies in the bottom quartile. What’s more, for ethnic and cultural diversity, the top quartile companies are 36% more likely to be profitable than bottom quartile companies.
The UK (aside from the US) leads the way with gender equality on executive teams. But representation here only grew by 5% between 2014 and 2019. McKinsey's global data set for 2017-2019 shows a mere 1% increase. This pitiful and indeed slowing progress is a problem. We need to do better.
Yes, the UK and the US lead the way with gender diversity, but there is still a long way to go, and neighboring countries need to make quick and impactful changes.
And, let’s not forget, whilst gender equality is of pressing importance, businesses and leaders should ensure that other cases, such as culture and ethnicity, are considered no less important.
A knock-on effect
I see a lack of diversity and equality in workforces as a psychological manifestation of who we are.
We, as are all humans, are programmed to find differences in our perceptions distasteful. We just do not like change - even if we adapt to it in the end - and even 'feedback' on our actions is naturally offensive to us.
So, with that in mind, it is inevitable that we have ended up in a situation where we have an echo chamber of talent that isn't necessarily supported by objective performance data.
The problem manifests itself everywhere; from the executive hires in the world's biggest companies to the latest bartender pulling pints at the local pub.
Conventional hiring and recruitment, such as only using a CV to identify and rank talent, is part of the root cause of bias decision-making (however implicit it may be) because the initial filter sifts candidates based on their upbringing, education, experience, or even appearance.
We are, thankfully, at the start of a movement of change. But this is a problem that is hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of years in the making. We need to unpick that problem with a collaborative and collective effort.
Covid-19 impacted diversity, equality and inclusion progress
There has been a polarization of diversity, equality and inclusion efforts, also known as DE&I, as a fallout of Covid-19, the ongoing pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.
In the spring of 2020, companies rightly turned their attention to the Covid-19 crisis. Most have continued to do so – either to stay afloat or even gain a competitive advantage – which meant DE&I became more of a focus for some whilst a matter of less significance for others.
Those that deprioritized DE&I - perhaps as a short-term measure to consolidate HR and hiring resources - have weakened their position; whether that is in their ability to retain, recruit, or mobilize their workforce, or even all those stages in the talent lifecycle.
Diverse talent is often most at-risk during times of challenge and hardship, as downsizing can have a disproportionate impact on roles held by those from more diverse backgrounds. And with increased home-working practices, all manner of inequalities can manifest in ways that will hit the bottom line and badly impact minorities.
For example, those who are managing childcare responsibilities during periods of isolation or school closures or those who are living in shared accommodation may be frequently working against the odds in order to keep pace with their peers.
Without a diverse collective of perspective catering to a diverse workforce, these problems can multiply to cripple performance from the ground up.
The acceleration of DE&I
The generational leap of tech-first remote working for so many companies provided an opportunity to build inclusive and agile cultures. Though we may be coming out of the ‘crisis', there remains a golden opportunity – and one that businesses should seize.
Traditional management structures, reinforced by physical office environments, have been fundamentally changed forever - even if we see a hybrid home-office working pattern become the norm from this point onward.
With this revolution, HR departments find themselves in a situation a pathway to achieving diversity and inclusion goals seems more realistic.
Make or break: what’s next?
There is no silver bullet. There is much to consider and even more to do.
But, with a few simple changes, real and meaningful progress is possible. What encourages me is that with all the companies that I speak to, particularly within the UK, there is almost wholesale agreement that this is an important issue - notwithstanding the economic arguments. However, the same cannot be said for all other countries across the globe.
The most common question I receive from those who recognize the criticality of this however is, "But, where do we start?"
And to that, my response is always the same; "What is the data telling you? What is your workforce saying about your DE&I efforts?"
We must know what the scale of the problem is before we can tackle it. Every single company is unique, and the manner of their ideal solution is unique to suit.
Once the problem is identified, I recommend a few ideas that can be considered to start spinning the wheels of change:
1) Get unbiased views of candidate potential (internal and external)
2) Consult with your DE&I team, committee, or lead when publishing job descriptions
3) Implement DE&I training for your workforce
4) Offer remote working opportunities where practical and appropriate
I'm proud that AssessFirst continues to help companies of all shapes and sizes with their DE&I goals through our data-led psychometric technology. We practice what we preach with our own remote workforce and using this technology as part of our own talent lifecycle management. But I recognize that fantastic technology is most effective when it is embedded as a part of a wider reaching strategy.
I have hope for the future, though there is ongoing work to do, and there will be for quite some time. But as the UK economy stirs back to life within what feels like the closing chapters of ‘crisis’, we can also bring the equality gaps to a close with renewed urgency.
Working in partnership with a handful of partners in the UK, we created a Diversity and Inclusion strategy guide.