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Louise's Column - Emerging Trends & Employment Market



The Bank of England has forecast that unemployment is set to rise amid uncertainty over Brexit but for now the market remains robust, with average weekly earnings also growing by 2.3% in the year to October.

Much of what drives this stability can be put down to the flexible labour market that the UK has developed. Kevin Green, CEO of the REC, expanded on this point at Hewett Recruitment’s recent HR Conference, commenting that we have a labour market that is the envy of many countries. However, alongside the Brexit question there are also challenges around the changing demographics of the UK and ever evolving expectations of the next generation of employees.

These two challenges also represent opportunities to change how we engage with talent in our organisations. In an era where the skills shortage is becoming more widespread, could offering a flexible approach to work ensure that this capacity is fully utilised? As Kevin Green said, now is the time to look at how to “hire flexibly from the outset” rather than just apply flexibility to your workforce retrospectively.

Then there is the rise in the gig economy, where online platforms provide instant access to people of all skills levels to complete whatever task you need doing. In an age when 85% of young people say that they want to at some point “be their own boss”, this approach allows any individual or business to connect with this new generation of self-employed, where work-life balance is getting towards the top of the priorities list.

As the traditional employer – employee relationship continues to evolve, the move away from old school “personnel management” towards strategic business partner becomes even more significant. In practice this means HR approaching the talent question with an altogether different approach to the traditional need for skills and experience. It means starting to treat employees – both current and potential – as consumers, building the best employee experience to attract and retain the best talent.

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