Wake up to the omniployment era

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Jan 17 2024 by Management-Issues Print This Article

What does the post-Covid, post-Great Resignation workforce looks like? New research from Henley Business School has identified six types of workers based on common elements that attract or dissuade them from applying to a job and argues that as far as employers are concerned, taking a ‘one size fits all’ attitude to employees, is no longer fit for purpose.

Led by Dr Rita Fontinha and Professor James Walker, ‘The Omniployment Era’ report suggests that the UK workforce is still on the move, with 30% of the UK workforce looking for a new job (a figure that includes 46% of people who moved jobs in the past year). Almost three quarters of the workforce (72%) also want a career that leaves sufficient free time for their interests and hobbies.

Surveying 3,000 full time employed respondents from the UK private sector, representing diverse company sizes, sectors and positions, Henley’s research identified six segments that have their own tipping points, desires and attitudes to work:

  • Work-life Balance Advocates, the largest share of the workforce at 39%, mostly aged between 18-34 years (38%).
  • The Socially Conscious, who shun companies with a poor record on environmental and social justice issues. They make up 15% of the workforce pretty evenly split across age and gender demographics, although half are in junior roles.
  • Lone Rangers, focused on salary and the opportunity to work remotely, make up 14% of the workforce
  • Salary-driven Weekend Workers who show a willingness to work long hours including weekends - 13% of the workforce. They are not concerned about employee benefits, ethical or social issues, or location and are mostly male (69%).
  • Employee Advocates, who expect companies to display high social standards and good business practices that treat their workers well. 10% of the workforce
  • Employee Satisfaction Enthusiasts are highly sensitive to employee reviews. They’re motivated by benefits packages and companies that treat their employees right. 10% of the workforce

To attract and retain this talent, Henley advises businesses to adopt ‘demand resourcing’, a flexible response to this segmented workforce through tailored HR offerings that recognise that a job tailored to attract one segment of the workforce will not tick the boxes of another. Rigid HR structures that restrict what can be offered to employees (e.g. benefits, career progression, flexible working) are no longer effective and the approach to work needs to become more bespoke.

“Omniployment might be a new term but the idea is not - heterogeneity in the labour market existed far beyond the pandemic,” said Dr Rita Fontinha, Director of Flexible Work at Henley Business School. “Our data-driven focus offers a fresh perspective, allowing us to characterise the shift, post- COVID, by quantifying it to detail what’s happening now between different and diverse groups in the workforce.

“It is crucial that business leaders wake up to the Omniployment Era and take steps to change the one size fits all approach of the past. If they don’t, it’s clear that employees in sectors with a high demand for talent feel empowered to look elsewhere.”

Henley has also shared key advice for employers serious about doing better by their employees and responding effectively to demands:

1. Embrace a workplace culture built around homogeneity:

Businesses must make sure that packages and perks are tailored to the individual worker, allowing employees to opt-in to benefits that best work for them. Encourage and normalise working and benefits that look different from employee to employee.

2. Make working flexible: 72% of the UK workforce wants a good work-life balance with enough time for interests and hobbies. Employers need to resist the temptation to move back to pre-pandemic ways of working. Greater investment must be made into understanding how to retain a workplace culture and spirit of development while also allowing for flexible working for those who want it.

3. Be transparent: Employees want to know they are working for a human company, and - in turn - the company needs to show transparency in its communications and practices. Employees appreciate that businesses aren’t always perfect but being honest and open about plans and how its leaders respond to adversity is key to making its staff feel like they work for a company that cares. For half of the segments, the likelihood they would apply to a job if it had good employee reviews was over 50%, increasing to 70% for Employee Satisfaction Enthusiasts.

The full Omniployment Era report is available online.