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‘Alternative working’ has become mainstream in Ireland, survey finds

3 Mar 2020

The Sigmar EY 2020 Talent Leaders Pulse Survey suggests that one-quarter of employees in Ireland are now working remotely.

This year’s Sigmar EY Talent Leaders Pulse Survey, published today (3 March), suggests that ‘alternative work’ has become mainstream in Ireland. According to the survey, one in four members of the Irish workforce carry out their work remotely and the ‘flexi-workforce’ now constitutes 21pc of the overall workforce, representing growth of 50pc over the last two years.

The HR and employment survey is the largest of its kind in Ireland, involving 326 talent leaders ranging from CHROs and CEOs to HR directors and heads of HR functions.

Participants were asked about their views on key talent themes and priorities for the year ahead. In terms of recruitment, more than two-thirds of employers surveyed expect to increase their headcount by an average of 19pc in 2020. However, retaining talent is seen as more pressing than recruitment, according to the respondents.

Sigmar CCO Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig described the survey’s findings as “very clear”.

“As we reach full employment, how and where we work is shifting momentously with more and more workers opting to work from home or other alternative workspaces,” he said.

“In 2020, we have reached a tipping point at which the face of work as we know it is shifting and the traditional 40 hours a week in the office over five days is potentially becoming obliterated.”

In terms of the number of employees working remotely, Mac Giolla Phádraig added that this figure is “likely to significantly rise” in the coming weeks in light of coronavirus arriving in Ireland.

Google has told the majority of its 8,000 workers in Ireland to work from home today, while Twitter is also encouraging its worldwide workforce to work remotely to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Performance-related recognition

Niamh O’Beirne, head of people advisory services at EY Ireland, highlighted the need for continued innovation in sourcing and retaining talent.

“As working norms and cultures evolve, so do employees’ expectations around flexibility and purpose,” she said.

“Leaders must continually innovate to keep their employees engaged and inspired to do their best work. We’re in a transformative age that requires new thinking and new ways of doing things, and organisations need to acknowledge that, particularly with human capital at such a premium.”

Central to that retention, the report suggests, are rewards based on performance. The survey found that employers foresee more than half of their employees receiving an 11pc salary increase this year, up three percentage points in the last year.

But fewer employees, on average, expect to get a pay increase – a signal of “sharpened focus on performance-related retention”, according to the report.

Sigmar and EY also found that employers are sourcing talent from overseas to a greater extent in 2020. Mac Giolla Phádraig said: “Wage inflation is seriously challenging our competitiveness and is compounded by the cost of living, particularly the cost and availability of housing.

“It’s clear that recruitment and retention remain key priorities, forcing employers to look overseas and to contingent labour pools to meet demand. 67pc [of employers] hired from overseas in 2019 and that trend continues, as 59pc expect to hire more staff from overseas in 2020.”

Other key priorities highlighted in the report include creating a more connected and collaborative workforce, encouraging more agile learning of soft and hard skills, increased development for leaders, aligning work to future value, citizenship and social impact, and HR automation.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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