Five or six years back, I started to see a difference in the way candidates responded to a head-hunting approach. My specialist recruitment area is the communications technology arena and as such, I’m used to searching for people with niche skills at the cutting edge of emerging technology. The first thing I noticed was that it was becoming harder to gain and retain the attention of candidates who had sought-after skillsets; at the forefront of software and middleware applications developments, there was a very clear surge in demand and not enough high calibre talent to fill that demand. I took note and carried on about my business.
In 2012, I started to move away from recruiting in the large corporate space (increasingly serviced by Managed Service Providers (MSPs) / Recruitment Process Outsourcing Providers (RPOs) and found that I was securing more than enough business within the UK SME sector. SME’s however are competing with the large corporates for niche technology skills. I started to notice that whereas the large corporates had started to heavily invest in "employer brand", telling their story and emphasizing their values, the SME sector was lagging behind. I found myself having more and more conversations with my clients about the importance of their corporate story - how they’d started out, where they were today and where they were hoping to go in the future. It was becoming clear that candidates were attracted by "brand" and preferring to go and work with/for businesses that would provide them with CV kudos.
Earlier this year, I was invited to present to an elite group of 50 IT Directors, all of whom work in the UK SME space, to address the challenges of hiring niche IT skills. This was an exciting opportunity for me, and it forced me to take a much closer look at the big picture of hiring in the UK today. I started reading and researching, and it was at this point that I mentioned in passing my project to Pat. Being the good egg he is, during our phone call he immediately suggested some key areas he thought might be helpful for me to look at, based on his background as a futurist. (This, by the way, was the start of Working the Future, only we didn’t know it yet J). Using that as a catalyst to research yet further, I started to join up some dots and to see that much of the pain my clients were experiencing was down to differing generational mindsets, and this finding formed the backbone of my presentation material.
This content of this presentation, and the fabulous response I had to it, piqued my interest, and I started reading further. Slowly but surely I was able to start piecing together an idea of what working in the future might both look and feel like.
Interestingly, in July of this year, I attended a talk hosted by the Association of Business Psychology. The talk was presented by Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD, and Peter’s chosen subject area was also, coincidentally, the future of work. There were many overlaps between Peter’s presentation and mine, and he reinforced the notion that the forthcoming changes will have huge societal impact.
When I start to delve into the many complexities that will shape our future working landscape, I realise that there are various possible outcomes. We could, post-Brexit, sleepwalk into the changes, ill-prepared for and far from match-fit to deal with the fall-out. Or we could take stock now, and work out what we need to do to manage these changes proactively, in order to fashion a future that makes the best of these changes, minimising, wherever possible, social fallout.
Pat and I want to share what we’ve learned - and continue to learn, of course - about the future of work. We know change is coming, and whilst it has the potential to do great good, this change, if left to its own devices, has the potential to cause great harm. We want to pass on our thoughts and views of how we might, here in the UK, mitigate the impact that workplace changes will undoubtedly have on our society, and work with business leaders to create a better future for all.