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Why a diversity strategy can’t just rely on ‘celebrating Pride once a year’

8 Jan 2020474 Views

Christopher Paye of Jobs.ie outlines the most important elements for any successful recruitment plan, from diversity to wellness.

When we think back over the past 10 years, the way in which we work – or at least how we want to work – has changed immensely. While traditional workplace priorities centred on a competitive salary and job security, the 2010s saw a shift towards workplace bars, ping-pong tables and high-end coffee docks, transforming employee expectations.

As a new decade begins, the modern workplace will continue to evolve. Much of this evolution will be driven by how we attract and retain talent. The 2020s will focus on a new cohort of workers: Gen Z. This generation will find value in different job attributes than their predecessors.

In order to stand out in a highly competitive recruitment market, Irish businesses – large and small – must be proactive in recognising and demonstrating a deep understanding of Gen Z’s needs.

While there’s no crystal ball that holds all of the answers, a number of key workplace trends are developing and maturing.

Culture and diversity

In 2019, the conversation around workplace culture and diversity intensified, and employers were quick to review and re-evaluate their offering in this area.

Many job candidates will research a company before accepting an offer. As a result, business leaders must be focused on employer branding and how they portray themselves, externally and internally.

Smart businesses will no longer rely solely on salary offerings or job security, but will proactively reassess and, if necessary, redirect their business strategy for 2020, focusing it on elements such as working environment, company mission, values, ethics and people.

Admittedly, culture and diversity as concepts can be difficult to understand, as they can take on different meanings for different people. But the best way for a business to position itself in this regard is to create an environment and diversity strategy that is true to the character and personality of their organisation.

To this end, celebrating Pride once a year doesn’t qualify as a diversity strategy. Instead, employers should aspire to develop a year-round cultural and diversity strategy that reflects the full diversity of its staff.

Gender pay transparency

Gender diversity is a topic that many business leaders care for and actively promote within the workplace. However, one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses is the gender pay gap. As the focus on this issue intensifies, Irish businesses will have to carefully consider the steps they are taking to eliminate pay disparities within their organisation.

‘Improved mental and physical health contributes to reduced stress, improved morale and increased job satisfaction’

An emerging area of scrutiny is the issue of ‘pay transparency’, which involves companies publishing their employees’ salaries, broken down by categories such as gender, race and ethnicity. In doing so, employees have a clear indication of their pay grade and how this compares with their colleagues.

While this helps to set standards for pay, promotions and raises within an organisation, many employers have been reluctant to adopt this practice as it can result in internal disputes.

However, pay transparency may soon be legally required of all Irish employers with 50 or more employees. Smart businesses should start being more forthcoming with this information now rather than waiting to be pushed by regulatory bodies.

Volunteer time

An emerging trend that’s set to become a workplace must-have for 2020 is offering paid volunteer time off as an employee benefit.

Allowing employees to take time off within the working year and volunteer their skills outside of their traditional work environment can have significant benefits for both the employee and the employer.

It provides employees with an opportunity to give back and improve their skills, such as communications, team building, leadership and adaptability.

From an employer’s perspective, they are satisfying their employee’s needs, which leads to a happier, more engaged workforce, increased employee retention, improved job satisfaction and an overall increase in workplace motivation.

A professional man in business attire is sitting at a table in a modern communal office space and smiling into the camera.

Christopher Paye. Image: Jobs.ie

Mental health and wellness

In the 2010s, many employers invested heavily in physical health, incorporating on-site gyms, healthy snacks and organising running clubs into their workplace offering.

However, as burnout and work-related stress become increasingly prominent topics of conversation, the focus is shifting from physical health to mental health and wellness.

Offering workplace benefits that focus on promoting positive mental health demonstrates the employer’s commitment to their employees’ overall wellbeing. Whether it’s scheduling regular breaks, arranging social gatherings, or even providing mental health and wellness training, initiatives can be adapted to businesses of all sizes.

The benefits for the employee are clear. Improved mental and physical health contributes to reduced stress, improved morale, and increased job satisfaction. For the employer, a healthy and happy workforce allows for increased productivity and reduced staff turnover.

Location, location, location

Sky-high rents. Mortgage deposits. Childcare. Insurance. Ireland, particularly Dublin, is an increasingly expensive, stressful place to live.

As regional job opportunities grow and remote working becomes a viable alternative to the nine-to-five commute, many young professionals, keen to avoid a day of punishing early starts, gridlock traffic and penny pinching, are now seriously looking elsewhere – to other cities and towns, but also to any village or parish with a decent broadband connection – to put down roots and grow their career.

‘Business leaders must be focused on employer branding and how they portray themselves, externally and internally’

According to recent Jobs.ie research, over seven in 10 Irish workers have considered relocating to a different county in pursuit of new opportunities and a better lifestyle. The data revealed that a lifestyle change (58pc), work-life balance (53pc), and career prospects (44pc) are the key motivators.

While on-the-job perks and long-term professional fulfilment are important, workers’ core need is a job that accommodates their basic living expenses and affords them a certain quality of life. Employers must consider these external economic and social factors when building their brand.

Creating your recruitment offering

In a recruitment environment that is constantly demanding more and more from employers, it can be difficult to strike a balance between providing a competitive offering and being a jack of all trades.

For a business that’s looking to stand out in the recruitment market, it’s important to focus in on what ties in with your own company values. Considering what matters most to you, your current employees, and the potential employees in your sector is the first step that you need to take in creating your recruitment offering.

Ultimately, this approach will help you attract the talent that’s best suited to you.

By Christopher Paye

Christopher Paye is the general manager of Jobs.ie.

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