The business wisdom that some leaders ignore but shouldn't

Smart Working Revolution

This article is part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Raise the BAR (Business Adaptability & Resilience) Campaign, sponsored by Western Union Business Solutions. For more campaign content click here. This campaign provides Chamber members with a platform to share learning and inspiration on this agenda. All views and opinions expressed below are those of the author only. 

By Ruth Gawthorpe, CEO, Smart Working Revolution

The latest labour market facts, figures and predictions show worrying trends, which traditional business thinking will not solve. A new sort of Business Wisdom is required.  Here’s why….

Skill Shortages

The British Chambers of Commerce report that recruitment & retention of people with the right skill set is the No 1 business issue for UK Business.  Firms had strong intentions to recruit in the second quarter of 2019.  However, nearly 60% suffered a shortage of suitable candidates.

Immigration Proposals

The British Chamber also warns that over half of UK businesses with staff from outside the UK will be negatively impacted by government proposals for the UK’s future immigration system.

UK Workforce Shortages of 1.9 Million

A recent Mercer report predicts a labour market gap of 1.9 million by 2025, should labour demand continue to increase at the same rate as the last ten years.  The shortfall is exacerbated by a dramatic decline in the number of foreign-born workers from Autumn 2017 to  Autumn 2018.

This caused a fall of 93,000 EU-born workers and 38,000 Non-EU born workers. It is the fastest rate of decline since records began in 1997 and suggests the impact of the Brexit vote is taking hold.

As if to compound the issue, the rise in job vacancies is also at its highest since 2001.  At 845,000 for August to October 2018, that’s up by 44,000 from a year earlier.  With 43,000 fewer people looking for work, companies are feeling the impact of a competitive and scarce talent pool.

Costs of employment

In addition, Business is calling on Government to reduce the unsustainable cost of employing people in the UK.  According to research, 72% of firms reported that the cost burden of employment has increased when compared to five years ago.

The UK is not a pretty sight at the moment.  We could sit around waiting for the politicians to sort it……..or we could take back control!  Why not start a Revolution in the way we attract and retain our people.

The Business Wisdom that will solve the challenges

To win the war for talent, Business in the West Midlands require recruitment and retention strategies that reduce reliance on conventional talent pools. This takes a mindset shift away from the traditional 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, office based mentality.

The problem is that we have some Business Dinosaurs out there who don’t trust their workers if they cannot see them.  However, if those Dinosaurs can develop a more open mindset, the West Midlands will bridge the labour market gap, reduce employment overheads and traffic congestion at the same time. 

For example, many of our clients are successfully employing more people with disabilities, carers, those who live in remote areas, retirees and parents, but to do this Leaders have to offer more flexible contracts…….and that requires a leap of Trust!.  

Cue Smart Working

A Smart Workforce model combines different locations, hubs, remote, smart desking supported by technology and smart leadership skills and a variety of hours and contracts supported by open minds and thoughtful leaders.

We encourage our clients to adopt innovative shift patterns that match their customer demand rather than follow the crowd.  This leads to unique solutions such as term time and gym shifts, 9 day fortnights and 4 day weeks, remote work combined with annualised hours and around 50 other creative solutions.

The success of a Smart Workforce is driven by Leadership and relies on how accomplished they are at engaging with their people.  Our clients view each person as unique and provide a tailored package that matches workers lifestyle with customer demand, and in doing so, these Leaders attract and retain the best people.

Smart Leadership Skills

Every Business has a Vision very but every Worker has their own Mission or Aspiration too.  The task of the Smart Leader is to connect the two because that is when the magic happens. Productivity improves by up to 13%

Leaders who take the time to understand customer demand  and also which hours, contracts, locations their individual team members can and cannot do are able to attract and retain the best people. It is this Business Wisdom that will mitigate the challenges above.

“ Smart Workers will work smart anywhere.  Shirkers will shirk anywhere”

West Midlands Leaders who choose to ignore the Business Wisdom of Smart Working will be left with the leftovers.

The Smart Working Revolution supports thoughtful Business Leaders, like you, who want to attract, trust and retain the best people by implementing a Smart Workforce.