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Welcome to the Omniployment Era - new research from Henley

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Today, Henley Business School’s World of Work Institute reveals its latest report ‘The Omniployment Era’, which identifies what a post-Covid, post-Great Resignation workforce looks like. The study identifies six distinct worker ‘segments’ in the UK workforce and quantifies what attracts and retains them in jobs, and provides advice to businesses on how to build a strong workforce.

Led by Dr Rita Fontinha and Professor James Walker, the research identifies that the workforce is still on the move, with 30% of the UK workforce looking for a new job (this includes 46% of people who moved jobs in the past year). To attract and retain this talent, Henley advises businesses to adopt ‘Demand Resourcing’ - a flexible response to a segmented workforce through tailored HR offerings.

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 - largest share of the workforce at 39%

  • The Socially Conscious - 15% of the workforce

  • Lone Rangers - 14% of the workforce

  • Salary-driven Weekend Workers - 13% of the workforce

  • Employee Advocates - 10% of the workforce

  • Employee Satisfaction Enthusiasts - 10% of the workforce

Defining this variety and diversity of preference in the workforce as ‘The Omniployment Era’, Henley’s study demonstrates that the workforce isn’t one-dimensional. 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.

Looking ahead to the future world of work, Dr Rita Fontinha, Director of Flexible Work at Henley Business School, says: “Omniployment might be a new term but the idea is not - heterogeneity in the labour market existed far beyond the pandemic. However, 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.”

We also share key advice for employers serious about doing better by their employees and responding effectively to demands:

1. Embrace a workplace culture built around heterogeneity

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 - for example, the likelihood that Employee Satisfaction Enthusiasts will apply to a job if it mentions hybrid or flexible modes of working is 70% for Salary-Driven Weekend Workers, this matters much less at 20%

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

Prof James T Walker

Pro-Dean of Academic Resources

Dr Rita Fontinha

Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy
Published 16 January 2024
Henley news

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